My dog hates other dogs.
I don’t know why. I’ve had her since she was 3 months old, as a foster fail. She was the first puppy I’d ever held. And when I took her to her puppy training class at age 6 months, she attacked the other puppies.
“You better get that terrier under control” said the instructor.
Of course, I didn’t understand what she meant. Terrier? Tammy was a plott hound mix according to her BARC paperwork. Or maybe a black mouth cur (my secret suspicion was BARC mixed her into the wrong litter). But what the obedience instructor meant was “pit bull terrier.”
All the other pups were purebreds, including one dobie babie with its ears still wrapped from the recent cropping. My mutt was not welcome.
By age 1, I had Tammy enrolled in training classes with Total Control K9 College. We had a great time and she learned to heel, stop, stand, and sit. We moved from a prong collar to a e-collar. The other dog owners knew she was quirky and stayed a few feet away.
We even participated in a rally obedience class. Ironically enough, at the breed-focused location where she’d first trained. She came in second in her class, only losing points due to my errors. But I kept her in the car with the A/C on when I was waiting for her turn. I didn’t want her around the other dogs.
I would take her to the dog park during the early morning hours on the weekend, where she would run with Doug, my other dog. I called her my Muddy Warthog. Whenever a dog came close to her, I’d call to Doug and she would follow. It seemed to work.
Until one day it didn’t work.
A friendly dog got close to me as I sat on a bench. Tammy went from playful fun to full on attack mode. It was like seeing a trigger flip in her face. That cost me $700 at the emergency room vet. And it ended our trips to the dog park.
She went to a board and train. She came back with a UTI and still hating other dogs. She went to another board and train. I got a really nice leash from that one.
Trainers have told me that it’s fear aggression. She’s afraid of the other dogs, so she attacks. And she’s protective of me. My anxiety when I see another dog translates down the leash as “must protect mommy.” It’s a vicious cycle.
I should have named her Gollum. And I, of course, am her precious.
So now I’ve just come to accept that my dog is what she is.
And what is she? A people-loving sweetheart that will bring the ball to you and drop it in your hand. Who will gently take a treat, only when told, “ok”. Who will polish the shoes of every visitor by rolling over on their feet and showing her belly. And who could hurt another dog if she got the chance.
So she doesn’t get the chance. Her world is fairly small. No trips to the pet store. No dog friendly bars or restaurants. We walk the streets early in the morning. And if I see another dog coming, I turn the other way. I’ll even wait on the other side of a car or go up a stranger’s driveway to avoid her seeing the dog.
I use a heavy duty slip lead, tightened high on her neck behind her ears. If I can’t avoid an dog encounter, I call ahead to the other person. I warn them that in 3…2…1 seconds my dog will erupt into barking that could wake the dead.
She is my responsibility. And part of that responsibility is to keep her out of danger.
If you have a dog that hates other dogs, you understand.
And if you don’t? Please have compassion for those of us with problem dogs. We’re doing the best we can.