Amicus is a fearful dog; there’s no two ways about it. He is fearful of strangers. However, the change in the last three weeks has been quite dramatic with small daily incremental improvements. When I first brought him home he would stop still 20 to 25 feet from people and either start barking and backing up, or he would just high-tail it back the way we came. Now, he’s gotten to the point where he will go up to most people and smell them. When they extend their hand towards him, unless it contains a treat, is usually when he starts barking. It’s a delicate balance in telling him no in the sense of what is inappropriate, but not in an angry or nasty way thus invigorating his fear. I think I am getting it, though.
What I am starting to think is that at some point in his life, this behaviour kept Amicus or someone he loved safe. However, now the situation has changed and he no longer needs to worry about his or someone else’s safety and yet the behaviour remains. It’s like a habit that he doesn’t realize yet he can just stop doing.
Now, here’s where the apawlogee comes in. This habit that he doesn’t realize yet he can just stop doing, well, I got one of those, too, and it’s wanting/needing to be right.
One of my best friends – let’s call her O’Riley – is very dog-friendly, very knowledgeable about canines, worked in a kennel for three years and saved quite a few dogs’ lives, plus she’s had dogs for as long as I have known her which is about 40 years now.
We have been having a big two-day argument after she kindly invited me and Amicus to come and visit her for a weekend and I said I would have to think about it and how I didn’t think Amicus was ready yet, and her countering with he’s coming to a place of safety and love and the visit might really help him.
Well, like Amicus’ barking/no-longer-necessary-fear habit, being right or really, wanting others to also think I’m right, is my old no-longer necessary habit. If Amicus is going to shed his old habits, then I better put on my game face, suck it up, and do the same.
Our argument went back and forth and both of us probably said things and used tactics that were unnecessarily reactive, sort of like Amicus occasionally does. But as I was walking beside the ocean tonight with Ami in the dark, I realized that my good buddy – let’s call her O’Riley – is an awesome loving dog person and almost certainly in this case IS RIGHT, which of course would not only make me NOT RIGHT, but actually WRONG.
Hmmm, can I live with that?
Yes! I’m wrong, I’m wrong, I’m wrong! So, old buddy old pal – let’s call you O’Riley – if the offer still stands, I would be honoured to visit your abode and your hound together with my Amicus who, YOU ARE SO RIGHT, could only benefit from making your acquaintance – as have I for many long excellent years – I would truly appreciate your vast experience to help us, as you wisely said, “guide” Amicus through his fear and into the brave new cur he soon will be.
I love you, “O’Riley,” and I sincerely apawlogize. XXOO