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Category Archives: German Shepherd

Encounter

So Ami and I were on an isolated logging road this morning and this guy in a pickup truck pulls up slowly beside us, and looking like John Malkovich in, well, really any movie he’s been in, asks, “Did you find a black glove on your walk,” which, seriously, why didn’t he just ask, “Did you find a metaphor of evil on your walk,” but anyway he goes, “Did you find a black glove,” and I’m like, “No, but I think there’s a Canada-wide warrant for your arrest,” and he goes, “So you didn’t find a glove,” and I’m like, “Uh, no.”  Ami didn’t say anything because he was eating otter shit, and then Being Sort of Like John Malkovich drives off, Ami licks his lips, and I’m like, hmm, double-double at Timmy’s?

Still Life with Dog/our walk today

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Right Now is What Matters

Even though I definitely should be working right now, I felt a sudden pressing need to update the world a.k.a. my three readers on Amicus’ progress because I typed in my name to google and some of the blog entries came up saying, “Amicus is definitely a fearful dog,” and while that was true at the time I wrote it, I want to strongly vehemently vigorously (you get the idea, right) stress that Amicus is definitely NOT a fearful dog any more, nor is he an aggressive dog.  He has been doing brave, wonderful, and sweet things and that is the current truth of Amicus. We just visited my best friends, and Farther, their nine-year-old pit bull/lab cross, and Amicus are now sensai and student, respectively, and fast fearless friends.  Amicus and I climbed Valentine Mountain using only deer trails and sheer will power.  Amicus has charmed both trainers in town because they’re smart observant experts who know a good thing when they see it.   Amicus does stick up for himself if he has to, but if you love him, he loves you.  He gives what he gets and he’s a work in progress.  Amicus is not a destination, he’s a journey.  Amicus loves dogs, except for two or three out of 100, and frankly my guess is they’re assholes, anyway, or maybe they just like mixing it up a bit.  He frolics, romps, and gambols – yes, gambols – when he meets other dogs and his big goofy mouth stretches back in a mammoth dog grin and his fluffy tail with its tiny tip of white goes awiggy-waggy.  He only occasionally barks at people when they come up behind us in the forest and that’s his job, right, and he shuts up pretty darn quick if I speak clearly to him in Dog.  So the current “in the now” truth of the matter is that Amicus is just a normal, happy, slightly reactive, and delightful houndie hound and, as for me, I am doing swell learning how normal, happy, slightly reactive, and delightful I am, too.

The University of Amicus

Yesterday, I took Amicus to Mowatt Bay, where it is nice and isolated, and we were having a great game of fetch (chuck-it) when this pickup arrived and guy and dog disembarked, a big brown mastiff, and the guy threw his ball and Ami wasn’t looking and suddenly this big dog ran into Ami`s play arena area and, because he was surprised and protective of his ball, he attacked the bigger dog, and of course the dog fought back and I just got back from the vet.

Ami’s got a bloody scratch on his face just under his eye, but luckily it’s neither deep nor serious, just a surface wound and I have anti-bacterial cream to apply twice a day, plus it was a good opportunity to talk to the vet.  We both agreed that the pickup guy should not just have recklessly thrown his ball over into Ami’s area especially when Ami wasn’t even aware they’d arrived.  Although he must be taught that aggression is not ever appropriate, it was not a normal aggression situation.  The vet agrees and thinks Ami is super smart and super trainable and he gave me good advice about two trainers in town who give classes where you go and there are other dogs there which the vet says is much better than isolating a dog.

I left a message for one of the trainers, and she phoned me back and we talked for about 20 minutes and she gave me some excellent advice about how I must make Amicus see me as completely in control of everything and how to do that.  Unfortunately right now, she’s only teaching a puppy class, but she did let me know about another place in town that has ongoing classes, so I will investigate that.  She talked to me for free and I garnered so much useful information from her and she was very good at explaining things clearly to me (probably why she`s such a good dog trainer).

So last night, it began and my dad is totally on board now, also.  Now, before he throws the ball (we play a lot of fetch in the house because my dad can’t walk particularly well) he makes Ami sit, then praises him, and he’s getting more alpha with Ami which is good because my dad was being too much of a softie with Ami.

This morning I decided to go the seawalk  and implement the dog trainer’s advice. Instead of saying no and pulling Ami away, I growled and roared at him like a demonic jackel (which is strangely satisfying and got some very perplexed looks from passersby) and yanked with fair ferocity on his leash when he wanted to rush at a dog. It really worked!

Dog training is really all about people taking Dog as a Second Language classes. Dog is a beautiful, simple, and clear language and I am honoured to be learning it.  Saying “No, no, no, no,” or yelling things in English is pointless, she says, and when I mean no, I have to speak vehement growling dog and when I want him to do something good, I say in a high sweet loving voice elongating vowels, “Siiiiit,” or “Coooome,” or Staaaay,” and then give him a treat.  She recommends I reintroduce treats back into his training and his walks, but instead of giving him additional treats, to give him like half of his breakfast and dinner.

Now, I make him do almost everything on my terms. Boundaries and limitations, and he’s not allowed on the couch or my bed for a while (which is a tough one, ’cause he’s my scooshy pooshy) and I have to make him sit and stay before eating, leaving, entering.  He tends to sigh deeply sometimes, like I’m sure I would if I ever joined the army and someone started ordering me around, but he is actually very obedient when he understands the command. The dog trainer said German Shepherds and Collies (Ami’s two halves) are amazingly trainable if you speak Dog well and she also said that he doesn`t sound aggressive, per se, but just not thoroughly trained and vying for dominance because he is still unsure of his place in the world because of his unstable and “sheltered” background.

So I feel so much better to have received some expert guidance that actually works and to be implementing solutions.  It makes me feel confident, more self-assured, and not alone. I will keep you posted on investigating and instigating ongoing classes for Ami and how that fares.  Importantly, my friends and family have also been giving me really helpful and supportive advice. It is touching and soothing to feel firmly that Ami and I are definitely not alone on our journey and that people want to help us.

I am also learning that if what I think is fully informed and functional, then other people’s opinions have less power or I give them less power, and know that what I am now doing is right..  There is so much to be said, in my opinion, for having full facts and expertise on my side, even if that expertise isn’t mine -yet.

I also think receiving help and being able to give help may be another huge lesson that Ami and I are learning.

I am also learning what being out there involved in living is like and what other people feel and think and how much we’re all actually alike, and how I need to let my guard down, open up, and stop judging myself and others so harshly.  We’re all on this adventure together and maybe we’re specifically all here to help each other out.

I am also learning just how important clarity is; how so very important.  No one is a mind reader and some people/creatures don’t share my language.  Clarity is so simple and yet so easily dismissed.  Let me give you an example.  To say to someone, “Blah blah blah blah,” in a really loud voice means nothing, but to say, “Don’t do that,” in their own language might produce an actual result that can be repeated.

To explain to someone what I really mean also lets them know that my shit is all about me and there’s nothing for them to take personally because what I say and do and how I react is all about me.  I have to work on being clear and non-reactive in the “moment,” which is the hard part because that’s not my default.  I think it is really important also to stay engaged with other people, not to hide or shy away, but to talk things through, to find common ground, to be kind rather than right, but maybe I’m getting off track now, and if I am, that’s okay, too.

Basically I guess I am slowly striving to reprogram my defaults or at least reset them to what they perhaps once were.   Sometimes I’m not even sure what I am learning, just that I am and that every so often I go, Oh, wow, so that’s what I just learned. Amicus is like a whole self-help university all in one dog.  I’m so glad I met him and so glad he’s my good friend.   Canis Emeritus Amicus.

FACEBOOK UPDATE

ALB (status) – SHARE:

Things don’t ever just get perfect and then stay that way, do they?

GOOD FRIEND

What’s up?

about an hour ago · Like

ALB

Ami issues and my sensitive little nature.

about an hour ago · Like

GOOD FRIEND

deTAILS

about an hour ago · Like

ALB

Amicus is becoming dog-aggressive for some reason and I actually started crying in front of a whole bunch of people this morning.

15 minutes ago · Like

ALB

It’s hard to be calm and assertive when your dog wants to eat your town.

13 minutes ago · Like

GOOD FRIEND

all dogs or one in particular…. what set him off

9 minutes ago · Like

GOOD FRIEND

some times he could be responding to aggretion in another dog

8 minutes ago · Like

ALB

I wish it were that, and it’s aggression.

7 minutes ago · Like

GOOD FRIEND

what happens

6 minutes ago · Like

ALB

It’s only with big dogs, and then iit varies, sometimes off leash he’s better, sometimes off leash he’s worse, sometimes on leash he’s better, sometime on leash he’s worse. Off-leash he likes to stand in the middle of the path, sometimes lie down and watch the approaching dog, and then he runs directly at them. If they’re friendly, he plays with them; if they’re not, he goes for it.

5 minutes ago · Like

ALB

Sometimes when I keep him on leash he just wants to attack them, sometimes he just wants to sniff them. He’s very unpredictable and it’s really stressing me out. People are starting to look scared when we approach and I think they’re all talking about us, too.

3 minutes ago · Like

ALB

Cesar would say it’s me, but I am not sure about that anymore.

3 minutes ago · Like

ALB

I have put in a phone call to a dog trainer/expert in town so we’ll see what she says providing she lives through the experience.

2 minutes ago · Like

ALB

It’s so weird because only last Sunday at the dog park he was awesome. ??? I just don’t get it.

about a minute ago · Like

ALB

He’s so on/off, like a faulty electrical switch.

GOOD FRIEND

Brown Dog when i first got him and sometimes right until the end would lie down in wait for another dog especially Gethro and Farther and then pounce and growl and chase..from an out side point of view it might have looked visious and scary but it was all play …do you remember this

15 minutes ago · Like

ALB

no, I don’t really remember, but Ami when he senses something he doesn’t like in the dog he’s run up to is really snarling and showing his teeth and aggressive, there’s no question about it, and yet when he plays, you can really tell he’s playing.

13 minutes ago · Like

GOOD FRIEND #2

It is true.. Farther does that as well..Not as much as Jethro and Brown dog did..but he does it..The dog park is good.. You should take him there as many times as you can…He is trying to push your buttons now that he feels like he has a home..

11 minutes ago · Like

GOOD FRIEND

he is nuetered right?

10 minutes ago · Like

ALB

of course

7 minutes ago · Like

GOOD FRIEND #2

If I take Farther out on his leash and a dog is approaching he pulls and jumps,,he wants to be social..I always tell the people he is friendly and I ask them if their dog is friendly and if they say yes..I take him off the leash…If they fight for some reason or show aggression I grab Farther and put him back on and walk away from the scene with him..

7 minutes ago · Like

ALB

yeah, I was doing that exact same thing and it was fine sometimes, but the last few days he’s gotten worse and I can’t take the change anymore it feels like.

6 minutes ago · Like

ALB

chance, I mean, not change

6 minutes ago · Like

ALB

Farther is a very different dog than Ami.

5 minutes ago · Like

ALB

It’s very unpredictable so until I get some professional help, I’m going to keep him on the leash on the seawall and off leash in the forest and on the mountain.

4 minutes ago · Like

GOOD FRIEND #2

It could be the dogs that he is in contact with though..He might be picking up on something from them and reacting..

4 minutes ago · Like

ALB

I think you’re right, Good Friend #2. He runs directly at them and if they’re scared or hostile he’ll fight them and if they’re not he’ll play with them. But he has still instigated it by running up and then being aggressive sometimes.

3 minutes ago · Like

ALB

Also in the last two days, a few people have told me to keep him on leash, and that’s partly why I started crying this morning – in front of people, very embarrassing for me, actually.

2 minutes ago · Like

GOOD FRIEND

Ask him what he’s playing at and give him a stern talking to!

about a minute ago · Like

ALB

If only that would work, like it would with a kid. I guess I’ll spend the evening teaching him English.

a few seconds ago · Like

GOOD FRIEND #2

Farther does the same..Some people are intimidated by him because he looks like a pit..and he jumps on dogs and stuff…but if you ask the owners every time if their dogs are friendly or not, if they say yes then you have to take it from their.. I think it is a good Idea to get a trainer though to help you better understand Ami and get some professional opinions

3 minutes ago · Like

ALB

Thanks, you two, it’s been really helpful and heart-warming chatting with you and getting your support. You still want us to come, Good Friend #2? XXOO

2 seconds ago · Like

ALB

I could always take an early ferry, see if Ami and Father want to kill each other, and if needed take another ferry home?

2 seconds ago · Like

GOOD FRIEND #2

Sure do.. Farther will help Ami..and if Ami is aggressive we can both deal with it and he WILL listen..

36 seconds ago · Like

ALB

Or we could charge admission – KIDDING!!!!!

a few seconds ago    Like

GOOD FRIEND #2

Ha ha.. Ami will be fine.. he is just testing you and because he is used to his new life.. he wants to rebel and test the social waters a bit.

about a minute ago · Like

ALB

Actually, I think you’re exactly right, and Good Friend, one of my dog training tip sites that I subscribe to says that at a certain point in training, especially when things seem to be moving ahead really positively, the dog will rebel and regress, but before you know it he’ll be better than ever.

2 seconds ago · Like

ALB

By the way this whole FB exchange we’ve just had is going to be my next blog but I will change your names but leave all the dogs’ names the same.

a few seconds ago    Like

GOOD FRIEND

he could be having memories from his life before and needs to sort some stuff out

about a minute ago · Like

ALB

You’re probably totally right; maybe something triggered a memory and he’s acting out because of impulse from before. It could also be that I’m not giving him as many treats on the his walks, also.

2 seconds ago · Like

GOOD FRIEND

it might be difficult but when a dog approaches in a future walk pay no heed sing a song or something

about a minute ago · Like

ALB

I’ll try that, however, I also have to be prepared to hold back 90 pounds of anger.

53 seconds ago · Like

ALB

Perhaps I’ll sing “And so the king is once again my guest…”

5 minutes ago · Like ·  1 person

ALB

Thanks for still wanting us to come. We really appreciate it since the entire town hates us now – okay paranoid negative thinking, I know, I know.

2 minutes ago · Like

GOOD FRIEND

why change our names in the blog?

2 minutes ago · Like

ALB

I just thought I’d respect your privacy?

about a minute ago · Like

ALB

for once.

4 minutes ago · Like

GOOD FRIEND

You don’t have to change my name unless of course you want to use The Great One

about a minute ago · Like

ALB

Actually, I have already changed your names to GOOD FRIEND and GOOD FRIEND #2

a few seconds ago · Like

GOOD FRIEND

who is #1 or GOOD FRIEND?

about a minute ago · Like

ALB

You are only because you wrote first; let’s not get all if-you-were-on-a-deserted-island-ish.

2 seconds ago · Like

GOOD FRIEND

well….”.i would pick a good book “is the safest answer

about a minute ago · Like

ALB

Okay, from now on when you two ask me that question, I’ll say, “Neither of you, I’d rather just have a good book.”

2 seconds ago · Like

ALB

Besides which, numbers are meaningless, I remember one episode of Da Vinci’s, I was Officer #2 and Officer #2 had way more (like three) lines than Officer #1.

about a minute ago · Like

ALB

And on that self aggrandizing note, I shall now post all this.

2 seconds ago · Like

GOOD FRIEND

a book on twins

a few seconds ago Unlike·  1 person

LOST ON VALENTINE MOUNTAIN PT. 8.8

LOST ON VALENTINE MOUNTAIN PT. 7/8

LOST ON VALENTINE MOUNTAIN PT. 6/8

LOST ON VALENTINE MOUNTAIN PT. 5/8

LOST ON VALENTINE MOUNTAIN PT. 4/8

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