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Monday, April 30, 2012

Pit Bulls: Yeah! Elke: Nay! (A "Reactive" Rant)

This past Saturday, I went to an event benefiting a Pit Bull group and there were 2 female "pit bulls" being big goofy, tail-wagging goobers. Those two girl dogs were being petted hundreds of times, having kids rolling around them, crawling on them, hugging them, yanking on their necks ---- for hours.  The tails never stopped wagging. I was so impressed by their tolerance and temperaments.  If Elke were in the same room, people would gravitate towards her because she looks "safe" and adorable.  And she is, sort of, with people for the most part. She might have taken that attention for about 15 minutes, tops. Which is fair; it's pretty stressful stuff. I get that.

 BUT if any other dogs would have been in her view, all bets would be off.

Go figure.
Last Friday, Artie The Cattledog goes off to Doggie Day Care and does just fine with the other dogs! He had so much fun he snagged a dew claw nail, so he's on antibiotics. I'm actually thinking about having those damn things removed. Hate them.  If I thought Artie would tolerate being a Conehead for 2 weeks, I'd do the damn surgery tomorrow. So yes, he is still a mouthy, somewhat disrespectful, bratty, adolescent cattledog boy.  But he's starting to mature a bit.  A little bit.
I am frankly so astounded that my cattledog did OK at day care. I know Elke has some issues but I figured Artie would be a wash-out too. He is, after all, a cattledog and they can be jerks! Yet again, he has pleasantly surprised me

On the other hand, there was today's debacle:

Elke, the one everyone thinks is so friggin' adorable (she's so snuggly, kissy and cuddly at home) FAILED. MISERABLY!

A big F.  As in Failed. As in Your Other Dog Is More Than Welcome But Don't Bring Her Back.

As in We Can't Get Her Out The Door Fast Enough And Don't Let The Door Hit You On Your Ass On The Way Out failed.

 I should have known this was doomed:
Death Knell #1: I had forgotten her vet records and we had to go back and get them.
Death Knell #2: A truly nice laid-back, hound-type dog walked into the lobby when she was in there and I had to get her in a corner away from that dog ---- fast.

It was embarrassing as hell. I get why parents, when faced with Little Johnny being a jerk at school, go home and beat the crap out of Little Johnny.  They are mortified. (No it's not "right," of course, so don't start with me.) And no, I didn't get mad at Elke until she pulled on the leash for about the bazillionth time which is getting so blasted old I could scream....I just yelled at her to quit it.

By the way: Gentle Leaders, harnesses, prong collars, C/T for loose leash walking....all a bust.  All the damn harness did was rub her fur raw in her armpits and cause huge problems.  Didn't affect the pulling one little bit. Walking her is even less fun than walking Artie on his worst days.  About like Dri, my German Pinscher.

Her "failing" means I've failed this dog somehow. Yet again. And it's getting really friggin' old.

Yes, I've failed. Period.  End of discussion.  You cannot convince me otherwise because: This is how I was trained in horses and then in dogs.  Your animal fails a test, an event; it is YOUR FAULT. Rider error, handler error.  It's all the same. You might get a pass with a shelter dog unless you're working with that dog every single day, a couple of times a day. But I felt like a failure is those "Help Train A Shelter Dog" classes; all my dogs were collosal failures, poor babies.....which is one of the reasons I stopped doing it. I might do OK in a Shy Dog class...I can toss hotdogs with the best of 'em to a dog who avoids me like the bubonic plague.

The Day Care People actually did a lot right. They took her into a very quiet room without me but I could see her (she couldn't see me) and brought in a very mellow, quiet, older, non-reactive dog.  At a distance on a leash. I heard her bark and I knew it was doomsday. I know that bark. She started being a jerk IMMEDIATELY. Growling, snarling, barking, snapping.... She was a total growling, shrieking, snapping mess of stupidity. They didn't even get the chance to meet and greet; the people at the Day Care were afraid Elke might hurt the other dog.

 I got Elke when she was 3-4 months old; she's never been attacked by any dog EVER to my knowledge. The boarding kennel where I normally take my dogs doesn't allow any dog interaction and she'll ignore the humans. The regular boarding kennel (Vistah Kennels) said she's very good but actually not much fun.

What is weird is so many dogs that I've seen who look like Elke tend to be assholes.  There must be something in the DNA combo that creates shepherd-looking faces, tan bodies, curly tails, cobby bodies and growling, snapping, asshole behavior. I have had more dogs that look similar to Elke growl, even from a distance.

I called the trainer we're supposed to take CGC prep classes with and left her a message that I'm afraid Elke is gong to get kicked out of class or fail it miserably. I'm afraid she's going to screw it up for the other dogs, Artie included. She growls when she sees people sometimes. She'll even growl at us occasionally, which is unacceptable. She only does it when we tell her to shut up because she's growling at something she hears outside. She definitely "reacts" to strange dogs. She's really bad in strange situations which, obviously this was.

How the hell is she going to pass the CGC, which is almost always in a strange place?  Let's not even TRY for the Therapy Dog or D.E.L.T.A.  (In fairness, that is a really hard test for any dog, regardless of breed/type to pass.).  I see my hopes for her going down the toilet like a torpedoed ship.

React. You know, I'm starting to HATE that word.

F---k "react." It's so P.C. It's so Dog Behaviorist-Don't Shoot The Dog psycho-babble lingo B.S. Don't misunderstand, I do respect those people.  They have tons more training and experience than I do.  I get that.

I got news: It's called Being Stupid. If we were talking about a child it would be: YOUR KID IS A BRAT. I don't care if they are 2 or 20.

In the olden days of dog training, we called it "Being An Asshole." We would have had her front legs off the ground by her face and she'd be getting a "what the hell" lecture in no uncertain terms if she pulled that crap.  You lunge at another dog (or worse a person) you're being an Asshole, a Bully.  (No offense to Bully breeds.) Nowadays with "positive only" types of training that is a huge no-no.  They're being "reactive."

Screw Being Reactive. They're being an ASSHOLE!  Call it what it is.  I'll try positive training, clickers, the yippee-skippy dance, whatever but PLEASE call it what it is.  Please "nice' dog training people, please, just call my dog an asshole. I'm OK with it.  Promise.  I know, far better than you, that my dog IS one! I want him/her to NOT be one!  The world sucks for doggie assholes.  Doggie asshole have very little life. Doggie asshole die all the time.

This is my issue...

I'm tired of having dogs I can't take anywhere or do anything with because they are reactive assholes. Just like one expects their kid to graduate from school, I expect my dogs to get their Canine Good Citizen certification.  Just the normal course of events. I expect that if I'm walking my dog on a trail I don't have to go 6 feet into the bush, stuffing hotdogs like I'm a sausage maker into my dog's mouth to avoid the other dog passing me or coming at me, even an ancient, calm one. I'd like to go on vacation with my dogs. We having a standing invite to go to NY state with our dogs too.  Bummer.  Kennel time!

I've only had one dog, Dri, my German Pinscher who couldn't pass the CGC test and it was one part...the "leave the dog with a friendly stranger" part.  He moaned. A lot. He whined. A lot.  People laughed.  A lot. (Frankly, I was stunned he did OK on the rest.)

Here is Elke, with those melt-you eyes, that soft fluffy fur, her adorable face...and she is being a jerk.

I'd love to take my dogs for hikes, bikes, maybe herding or agility or Rally.  I'd love to go to events like BARK IN THE PARK, the Humane Society's fun benefit and dog walk. I will probably try and take Artie. He might be just fine.  I'd love to do therapy work with my dogs; I've seen the benefits.  I know what dogs can do. I'm tired of my world shrinking because of the asshole dogs the goddamn Universe seems to throw in my way.

WTF? WTF am I doing wrong?

So, in conclusion, the next time you are out walking with your dog and see an adorable Elke-looking dog and a "pit bull" type dog, you might want to give Miss Adorable a wide berth and try walking NICELY past the Pit Bull.

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