Don’t worry. He’s friendly. Ish.

My dog Trudeau is easily one of the best dogs in the history of time. Sure, he’s over a hundred pounds and approximately the size of a shetland pony, but he wouldn’t hurt a fly.

Unless the fly is dog-shaped. Then he will cut a bitch.

It’s possible that Trudeau has a little bit of a dog aggression problem. Okay, he definitely has kind of a big dog aggression problem. He doesn’t seem to want to, say, draw blood or destroy his enemies. He just wants to, you know… push the other dogs into the ground and make them cry uncle and maybe pee themselves. He’s like a schoolyard bully on a sugar-high. We’re getting professional help, and by that I mean obedience training, not a dog psychiatrist. (I already know that he has abandonment issues and probably unresolved feelings about his parents.) I have confidence that it is very fixable, and in the meantime, we’re managing the issue.

I keep Trudeau leashed and under control (though in order to do this I have to make frequent use of my Look of Disapproval and my incredible biceps), and generally this wouldn’t be a big problem, except that I’m apparently the only person in the county who believes in leashes. And though everybody’s off-leash dogs are perfectly friendly, they don’t quite seem to understand that my dog is not. Not too long ago while walking in Sequoia Park, Trudeau and I came upon a man who was crossing our path and who, I did not notice until we were almost upon him, had a tiny and adorable little shepherd puppy stumbling along at his heels. Off-leash.

The puppy happily trotted up to us, blissfully unaware of the nature of his impending demise. I held back my instantly over-excited bloodhound/silverback-gorilla-cross monster, who was either determined to lick the puppy to death or determined to devour it in a single gulp, and who either way was very likely to kill it by accident with one of his huge clumsy platter-sized paws.

The puppy’s owner, unconcerned, didn’t seem to notice me struggling with Trudeau (who was doing his very best Kraken or possibly Cthulhu* impression, complete with “GIVE ME NOMS OR I WILL DESTROY UR TOKYOS”), glanced over and, apparently utterly misinterpreting the nature of my concern, said, “Oh, don’t worry. He’s friendly!”

As you can imagine, I was very relieved that the puppy — who seemed barely old enough to be weaned, and certainly not old enough to have joined Fight Club — wasn’t going to attack the slobbing gorgon. I don’t think said gorgon realized how much danger he might’ve been in. From the puppy.

Loose dogs are a problem in my neighborhood in general, and particularly since I walk my dog after dark, I’ve ended up with a bit of a case of the nerves about the whole thing. There’s Maxi-the-fleabitten-mongrel down the street, who actually vaults right over the fence so that she can bark ferociously at us, and the Akita on the other side street who stalks us creepily from the shadows, and the pit bull on the school road who is only held back — and only occasionally — by a gate that seems to have been made from an old wooden shipping palette. The latest addition to the giving-me-a-freaking-heart-attack brigade are a pair of massively-muscled pitbulls, who after running amok in the neighborhood for a few days seem to have taken up residence in the cemetery, which they clearly chose for its theatrical properties. A pair of snarling pitbulls charging at you isn’t quite enough; with the whole cemetery thing they were going for more of an H.P. Lovecraft-style effect, in which dogs in addition to having sharp teeth and bad attitudes are also demonic and will eat not only your face but also YOUR VERY SOUL.

I probably wouldn’t have much of a problem with these animals if it weren’t for Trudeau, who attracts trouble like he’s a gravity well, and who certainly doesn’t help these situations by baying back what I can only assume are lewd remarks about the pitbulls’ mothers. Honestly, I cannot take him anywhere, and I hope he realizes he has only himself to blame.

* When I typed “Cthulhu,” my blog insisted that it was a misspelling and suggested instead “Cuchulain.” Thanks, blog. Now I have The Pogues running through my head, and that’s not a bad state of affairs if you ask me.

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2 thoughts on “Don’t worry. He’s friendly. Ish.

  1. I have the exact same problem with Greta. She is perfectly willing and able to be polite in very specific circumstances but generally off-leash dogs running up to her is not it. (Unless it’s a couple of dogs she already knows and is friendly with.) I have yelled at other dogs, stomped menacingly at, and in a limited number of cases picked up with my foot and flung a short distance, all the while trying to keep Greta from attempting to eat them. Thank god that most of my neighborhood believes in leashing and fences. We generally have the biggest problems with off-leash dogs in local state parks. You know, the ones with giant signs that say “ALL PETS MUST BE ON LEASH”? *SIGH* So yeah, I feel you on it.

    One of the most helpful things we got from our trainer was “check it out” (also found on the web as “look at that”) as a way to get her to refocus from a triggery thing like a loose dog. Also, emergency exits (“Hey, chasing after me is way better than engaging in anti social behavior with that lawbreaker and I have cookies!”). Hopefully your trainer has that one the schedule!

    • This is actually an old post that I was just doing some maintenance on, so we’re in quite a different situation now… he still has some issues but has gotten much better (giving him enough exposure to other dogs by taking him to the park until he gets bored of seeing the other dogs has helped a lot), but unfortunately at the moment I can’t afford a trainer to help us out. :( I’m hoping to find more regular work soon so I can afford it, though; I’d love to get him his canine good citizen and get some actual working strategies for this problem. I have a TON of really aggressively clueless dog owners in my neighborhood and we’re living in a much bigger city now which is really stressful for me anyway trying to manage him around other dogs. ;(

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