Monday, April 9, 2012

The Humiliation Factor

Ricky is a happy dog.  Ricky is a fun dog.  Ricky knows not to eat things off of the kitchen counter.  Ricky will give way on the couch if you ask him and has learned to share space with Kassa.  Ricky will lay down on command and will line up beside me when asked.  Ricky wont try to eat food off my plate when I'm eating while watching TV. Rather he will plop down on the couch beside me and let me eat in peace. Ricky will come to you at speed when off leash (in a fenced area).  Ricky loves loves loves to play fetch.  Ricky is very affectionate.  Ricky loves routine.  Ricky is stubborn.

Ricky hates to go for walks.  It is bizarre, and I think it is a combination of the his fireworks phobia and the fact that he overheats easily.  He will mule up or lay down on the bed after I have put the collar on him in protest of a walk.  I have largely suspended leash walking Ricky because neither one of us enjoys it particularly much when he decides to be a mule before we even go out the door.  Also because I largely suspended our walks, he has become willing and easy about just taking him out to the turn out area or walking around the back yard to do his business.  He also gets a lot of exercise zipping around the field, so I'm not particularly worried about his health in this regard.  Ricky has trouble loading in vehicles. He will with some protest or confusion load into the cab of the pickup truck with me, but he will not jump into the back of an SUV.  I have tried and am trying high value treats that he is absolutely dying to get.  He puts his front legs up and tries to step up but cant get his back legs high enough to step in.  Ricky boy wont jump.

So Ricky and I were pretty set with our arrangement.  I let him run in the field, work with him on loading into vehicles and don't take him on long walks,  he poops on command and maintains good indoor dog manners.  Unfortunately I forgot one little thing: The humiliation factor.   Now I have always prided myself on spending a lot of time with my dogs and having generally well behaved, healthy and happy pups.  You know what they say about pride.  It comes before the fall.   I took Ricky to a meet and greet at 100 Oaks in Nashville.  It was being held in appreciation of Todd, who had hosted it religiously for the past 4 years so a lot of folks showed up.   (Thank you Todd.) When it was time to go, Ricky decided it wasn't. He muled up and would not walk with me.   This of course provided much amusement to everyone and we were showered with boisterous laughter.  Now I have a fairly self deprecating sense of humor.  I lead, and point out a particular weakness before someone else can, thus we can have a good laugh together.  This however I was unprepared for.  This was not fear or phobia, this just stubbornness and defiance. This was not his failing but mine and my training of him.  I became the guy who has to plead with their dog to follow.  So I boosted his bum until he decided to jog with me to the truck.  Thank god he climbed in with out too much protest.

This of course all got me thinking about a few things. One is that for a grown man, I'm still remarkably thin skinned in certain circumstances.  Now I'm sure that the people at the meet and great were just enjoying an amusing moment, but within these communities there exists joyful support but there can be a scandalous undertone and competition. Dogs are too fat, too thin, nails to long, eat the wrong thing or don't exercise enough.   When people are passionate about things they tend to have strong opinions about how things should be done.  They want to do the best in their circumstances and sometimes the downfall of others serves as self validation.  I realized I have been guilty of such behavior from time to time.  I need to be sure to celebrate others successes and be encouraging not judgmental in their failures. I also need to walk my dog more, whether he likes it or not!


Angela J. said...

First I have to say thank you for this post! It made my day - not because I didn't feel for you in that situation, but because I have been in that type of situation and understand exactly where you are coming from. I find that I often point out my own mistakes before anyone else can but when it comes to my dogs, I seem to take any perceived failure to heart a lot more.

houndstooth said...

I promise that I am laughing with you, because I have been there! Oh, God, this is the first time I've read about it happening to anyone else in such a public manner. I can tell you that we quit forcing Blueberry to walk with us for the same reason. We call her performance the jackass routine. She is suddenly walking as far behind you as her leash will allow, and not only that, but she whines pitifully as she goes along. We decided it wasn't worth the risk of being reported to the ASPCA.

Our first Greyhound was Treat, and she got in the habit of freezing like a statue. It was because she didn't like dogs barking at us. As Spring warmed up, more and more dogs were out and soon there was no route we could take from home that didn't take us past a barking dog in the yard. She wanted to just sit on the porch, even though I knew she loved going out for walks. I started taking high value treats with me and going for short walks. When she'd freeze up, I'd lure her on. After a while, I had my husband drive us across town and made her walk home with me. Sometimes I had to sit and wait her out, but I wasn't giving in, even though I was afraid our neighbors would think I was abusing her. Finally, after we got our second Greyhound, she became our dream walking dog again. As a matter of fact, she's the only one of the five we've had who would always hound me for a walk, no matter the weather or time of day!

jcp said...

@Angela.. Thanks for your comments :)
@houndstooth.. I was worried I offended you or something because I've missed your insights lately. Glad to have you back :) You mentioned Blue does it.. hmm.. maybe its a blue dog thing!