The worst habits of extremely obnoxious dog people: “The Greeter”

Spoiler alert: This will be a series.

I had finally made time in my schedule to drag Ewe off to get a bath.

Rather, he finally stunk enough that I was sick being knocked back with stench when he bulldozes his body (with ball in mouth) in my face anytime I’m closer than usual to dog-level. Don’t judge me. We’ve had a nasty wet muddy winter.

We picked a slow time of day on a Sunday evening to avoid idiots and be able to get in and out as quickly as possible since I no longer have the luxury of my own backyard bath station and have to use pet supply store self-baths. We take our time walking to the shop, allowing Ewe ample time to adjust and pee before the torturous bath was to begin.

He knew what was coming. Each bush became more fascinating than the last the closer we got to the front door.

“COME ON EWE.”

*Stares from random passersby who think I’m referring to them*

Closer to the front door, I spot someone inside with a dog. Not ideal, but whatever let’s just squish to the side. Hopefully, that will make it obvious we have no interest socializing. Although I generally think the look I give is sufficient. We’re at the door. You see us. Literally there’s no fucking way you don’t see us. You are 10 ft. away from the dog and the dog has his face smashed into the door. On a Flexi leash. Of course it’s on a flexi leash. While you stare from the dog to us and back to the dog- a dumb smile spread across your face.

So I stand there at the other side and wait. Understanding finally dawns on you when you realize we still aren’t entering.

“Oh, come on now so-and-so get out of the way.”

Yes. Please, so-and-so. Get out of the way because obviously that isn’t a leash attached to you which allows the buffoon on the other end to reel you in. This is totally your choice whether to “get out of they way” or not.6680154595_3bbf939f50_b

We enter. Ewe is on my right so I can keep myself between him and the flexi couple. And then I hear the familiar click and unreeling of the flexi. The dog who was 7ft away is now closing the gap very quickly. I push Ewe practically into the crowded shelves to get him out of the way and create more space while mentally cursing you from here until next Tuesday.

“Oh come on now, get back over here..”

Seriously..?

YOU unlocked the flexi. I HEARD you do it! What the f&%k?! Are you that dense??

So-and-so starts to growl at which point I’ve had enough of being quiet and playing nice and I ask him to reel your dog in- mine isn’t friendly.

So then I get a rude face and you drag the dog back looking at us as if Ewe is now plagued with some disease (other than Squirrel Brain) Yeah, dude. Last time I checked your dog was growling at mine. And you let your dog approach without asking. AND you’re using a flexi leash.

Or how about when I’m holding on to 4 dogs (2 of which are reactive) and some “well meaning” person *cough* IDIOT ASSFACE *cough* decides to walk off the trail (you know, where you’ve gone to get out of the way of other people/dogs) and lets their dog walk right up and into us without batting an eye like this is a totally NORMAL and acceptable form of behavior.

“OH SAY HI TO THE DOGS”

And put your crabby ass face away when I yell at you (since you’ve caught me off guard trying to make sure I DO indeed have a hold of 4 leashes in my hand) “NO THEY’RE NOT FRIENDLY!” Because you, sir, are in the fucking wrong.

And now Ewe is bark bark barking. Again.

I wish this occurred less. I really do. But I am not exaggerating when I say the majority of people who have dogs let their dogs walk up to who they want- whenever they want. Without asking. Without checking to see if it’s OK. Without even noticing if YOUR dog is really totally approaching that dog with friendly intentions. Yes. Seriously. And still to this day people walk up to people with dogs and bend down over them and lavish them with touching and cooing baby voices. Just because you have a dog too (or did, or wish you did, or whatever your personal sob story you’re about to tell me) doesn’t mean my dog and I don’t deserve some space or respect.

Just because someone also has a dog doesn’t mean you’re both in the same club and we can treat each other like close friends. If you wouldn’t walk right up in my face because we have similar hair colors and start sniffing my ass, give my dog and I the same respect! What you’re doing isn’t cool. And if you don’t care who approaches you and your dog- good for you. But I do. And a growing number of people DO. People who are working with their dogs. Or want their dogs to learn respectful greeting skills. Or people who have dogs that are over-stressed in what would be a “normal” situation. Or perhaps they’re just snobby bitches and don’t want to associate with you. It doesn’t matter WHAT the reason is.

9636372003_1c385e835c_kWhen you’re out walking with your dog and you encounter people who pull to the side, or walk across the street, or who walk into the grass and/or are making any movement to indicate they do not wish to be in your obvious way- respect that. Respect them. Take your face out of your phone and pay fucking attention.

A simple “can my dog say hello?” (before, you know, approach us) is all I or anyone asks. It opens up the conversation where I can politely respond with a yes or a yes with a condition. OR a no. It is 10000% OK for me to say no and that’s that. With a small effort of courtesy, we can both make the interactions between our dogs a much better and more enjoyable situation. And I won’t want to beat you with the closest thing I can grip my hand on.

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Why Flexi leashes are the absolute bane of my existence.

Enjoying the cool and crisp 60 degree morning surrounded by fall colored foliage walking around a gorgeous lake is an ideal Sunday morning for me. Jim has the Reddog- dressed up in his harness carrying the collapsible water bowl, feeling like our fearless excursion leader (and dipshit extraordinaire). Ewe and Cheyenne are my trail partners for the day with their leashes wrapped around my waist. The dogs are sniffing and enjoying being out and about with us today. My pockets are stuffed to the brim with treats in an effort to make this outing as enjoyable as possible despite Ewe’s ever relentless efforts to control all the idiotic out of control dogs that dare to invade his breathing air.

Cheyenne could care less about anything other than sniffing.

You don’t know my life, bitch

Yes, OK Cheyenne, that’s enough out of you.

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What could ruin this day?

A flexi leash. That’s what.

“Ugh god- there’s a dog on a Flexi leash”

Not my words- but Jims. Be still, my heart! He’s taken on my loathing for those atrocious inventions. I only have a moment to savor his words before we are accosted by an out of control bouncing dog pulling and zig-zagging on the end of his what seems like never ending leash-of-death.

Ewe has of course spotted this out of control beast and has begun his initial huffing and puffing.

We pull to the side. Creating as much space AWAY from this dog and his thus far illusive human whom I hope is at the end of the leash somewhere.

Ewe is on the brink, but I pull him in and try to divert his attention off the yapping meal on wheels and onto me.

“Oh SHMOOPY-POOPY! STOP PULLING!!” The keeper of the leash-of-death has finally appeared. “Oh wow look at these dogs!! They’re so pretty!!!”

This is the moment I panic. These are usually the last words before they try to close the gap i’ve tried to create between the two of us. I don’t know what makes us so appealing- whether it’s the look of murder in my eyes or my idiot herding dog BARK BARK BARKING but clearly we look like an inviting bunch.

Bouncing out of control Shmoopy Poopy is edging closer, now having noticed us. Straining against his poorly fitted harness he drags the moronic human closer and closer. The harness, of course, only making it easier to pull with.

“Sorry, my dog isn’t very friendly!” I speak as loudly and clearly as possible without trying to unleash the bitch that is raging inside me. (“GET THAT DOG AWAY BEFORE I SNIP THAT FLEXI LINE AND LET YOU PLAY AN IMPROMPTU GAME OF HIDE-AND-SEEK FOR THE NEXT 6 HOURS.”)

“Oh- IT’S OK SHMOOPY IS VERY FRIENDLY HE LOVES DOGS!”

Yeah. Ok. I don’t give a shit.

Jim, thankfully, steps in and intercepts what was about to blow Ewe’s brain to pieces and we scurry on, trying to get as far away from this duo as possible.

I know some people love their Flexi leashes. Why? I don’t honestly know. Because the majority of interactions i’ve had with them has never been short of obnoxious. To the point of reckless and dangerous in some cases. Seriously- have you ever even read the “warnings” that come stamped on those things? Amputation?! Yikes.

While some people find that Shmoopy Poopy likes to have “space to roam” or whatever bullshit- take it somewhere that you aren’t constantly running into another person (and usually their dogs too.)

Here are just 5 instances (i’ve encountered this WEEK) where you should NOT use a Flexi leash:

  • Letting your young CHILD walk your PUPPY through a busy park with people running, biking, and walking their dogs ALL over the place. Because your child doesn’t get that other people do not want to greet your puppy. Or have it run into their dogs. Or maybe bikers who zoom by while little Suzy is letting Shmoopy Poopy roam about 15 feet to the left of her isn’t the smartest idea ever. Unless you want a Shmoopy Poopy pancake- then by all means please continue as you were.
  • Your dog whom doesn’t understand the concept of loose leash walking doesn’t belong on a flexi leash. Flexi leashes work by the dog PULLING away from the handle. It, then, unravels and allows the dog more distance from you. Sounds a lot like the dog is being conditioned to pull so he can get where he wants to go. Something that a dog who has no concept of “loose leash walking” shouldn’t be doing. Funny- I know.
  • Anywhere that there is going to be a large crowd of people OR dogs. I’m glad you thought this loud outdoor music event was appropriate for your dog to attend- and i’m even more enthralled that your dog has managed to wind his way around 10 other people (20 feet away from you- of course) and is currently shoving his face in someones food. Or the trash. Or in the face of another dog who does NOT look happy about this rude dog suddenly invading his space. And yes, now your dog has hit the end of the twine that connects him to the plastic handle you hold and is continuing to use his 60lbs of body to continue to pull (since, I mean, that’s how this leash works) and is giving everyone a nice rope burn. Thanks, dick.
  • At a dog park. Yes. This happens! All the time. Shmoopy Poopy has never been to the P-A-R-K before- so lets put him on a retractable leash which will extend a large amount of distance so we can “keep an eye on him” and be able to “reel him in” if we need to. Yes. It’s just as smart as it sounds. Especially when Shmoopy Poopy panics and takes off and then other dogs try to chase him, get caught up in the line, shmoopy poopy stops abruptly (ran out of twine you know) and now everyone gets to panic because there’s probably about to be a dog fight.
  • In a store. I get that you like your Flexi leash- and want to show off your lack of brain cells in a public place. But while you are shopping in one isle (for a bedazzled Flexi accessory i’m sure) your dog is down at the other end either peeing, knocking shit over, or irritating another customer and their dog (who may or may not be friendly.) The employees have to be nice of course, but inside they rage harder than I do (and that’s quite a feat.) If you’re taking your dog someplace it’s because they allow dogs into their establishment (let’s hope anyway) don’t ruin it for the rest of us because you can’t keep Shmoopy at your feet and out of the way of everyone else living their life. Your dog doesn’t need to shop 20 feet ahead of you. You brought your dog along because you wanted to give them an outing or to try on some new gear or (maybe) because you’re trying to work on manners. None of these require the dog to be away from you and out of your control.

Seriously folks. These leashes are terrible. If you want your dog to have space to roam, put them on a long line and knot it giving you points to draw the leash close to you when necessary. Not all dogs are friendly and want your dog barreling in their face. It’s a split second action that can leave your dog scarred and another dog penned as a “dangerous dog” just because of a silly contraption you insist on using. Your dog doesn’t need to be 15+ feet away from you when you’re walking them. 15 feet can be the difference between the sidewalk and the road where cars are flying. Between hedges and someones driveway where they’re backing out. 15 feet they have to gain momentum and burst the flexi (yes, i’ve seen it happen) or yank it out of your hands and have the handle clattering behind them as they take off even further spooked by the continual clacking of the plastic on pavement as they run off. There is not a single case where Flexi leashes NEED to be used.

Not everyone wants to meet your dog. Not every dog wants to meet your dog. Using something that lets the dog pick how close or far they want to be to you (or anything else) in a split second decision ISN’T smart. Nor is it safe. Nor is it fair for anyone else around you. Be smart, put the dog on a 6ft leash and keep an eye on them. No matter where you’re walking.

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Hi my name is Ewe- And I have squirrel brain.

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There are a lot of things that Ewe doesn’t do well with.

Dogs on leashes.

Dogs whom assault his personal space.

Rude people.

Rude dogs.

Loud random noises coming from weird people who think it’s funny to bark, screech, or randomly yell at him.

Out of control small children.

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He’s got banana brain syndrome. Or squirrel brain syndrome. Or whatever seems to fit in that moment. He’s a reactive Aussie-tard.

He’s friendly. But he’s reactive.

And that also means that he’s extra sensitive.

That dog at the dog park that you just know shouldn’t be there because it’s over anxious, overly assertive, a bully, or just an ass? My dog picks up on that before the dog is even in the gate. He’s already feeding off of that dogs banana brain syndrome and making his worse.

That person whom is dealthy afraid of dogs? My dog feels that before they even walk in the door or his line of sight and is going to be even more squirrely than he usually is.

Ewe isn’t a bad dog. There are just things he can’t handle as well as the other dogs.

But regardless, I treat Ewe like he is a dangerous dog.

He is my responsibility. I am his owner and as such I am his protector.

I am hyper alert about others and their dogs while we are out on walks. I make sure I have ample time to create an escape route for us in my head as I also simultaneously create a plan to make this “interaction” as much of a learning and training opportunity as possible. While also making sure he is safe from the ever-obnoxious yet ever persistent “my dog is friendly” owner. Or “my child loves dogs” parent. Or anyone whom I can’t control personally.

I understand you mean well. But Ewe means more to me than your insistence of a physical interaction with my dog. I don’t care if I come off as rude.

He has grown leaps and bounds from where he was a few years ago. He is no longer in the same spectrum he was in the beginning. But he’s still learning. He’s still being managed. And he still has the capability to do something “stupid” and be condemned for it. So- we take precautions. Always.

Unfortunately there are some who don’t feel the same about their dogs. They allow potentially dangerous interactions to take place in effort to “socialize” the dog. They let others (whether strangers or well-meaning friends) pressure them and their dog into doing things they shouldn’t. Or putting their dog in situations they can’t or shouldn’t even be expected to handle.

Your dog bites a kid. Or another dog. Or a adult. Woah! OK. Time-out. You obviously missed some major signs going on that the dog was either not stable or not comfortable. Or perhaps hasn’t been comfortable for some time and you ignored it (punishing growling, ignoring body language, physically forcing the dog.) But now you have another chance. You know there is something no so cool going on with the dog. That has been made BLATANTLY obvious. It’s time to go in to management mode. Muzzles, leashes, limited interaction with whatever the trigger or recipient of the bite was.

To ignore the initial signs is something that is unfortunately way too common these days- but to continue to put the dog in poor situations after your huge red flag warning- that’s sad and irresponsible. And it’s going to be very sad and very tragic for you in the end but especially for your dog who more times than not loses his life over it. Granted there ARE those dogs whom are just extremely unpredictable and whom ARE a liability. I do not doubt those dogs exist. I have seen those dogs. And I have seen those whom relentlessly and a bit naively feel the dog is “fixable” and continue to pour time, money, and resources into a dog whom continues to bite and lash out. (But hey- that’s another story.)

Does that sound callous? Probably.

There have been too many instances lately where a dog is wrongly euthanized because of a problem caused and exacerbated by it’s owners. And that hurts and sucks and seriously ticks me off because YOU if not anyone else but YOU were supposed to be there for that dog. That is part of being a dog owner. And you weren’t.

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Why my dogs are giant assholes- and I never want it any other way.

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Every morning usually starts the same. I sleepily trudge down the stairs hoping I don’t trip and fall to my death as i’m usually blind- too lazy to have looked for my glasses before getting up. As I make my way down the 2nd half of  the stairs I usually hear the stirring in the kitchen as Cheyenne gets up and Rodeo gets all wound up at the thought of me entering the kitchen.

I mean, I might get a COOKIE or FOOD or SOMETHING edible. I also have to PEE.  LET ME SCRATCH THE DOOR- SHE LOVES THAT.

No, Rodeo. I don’t love that.

Ewe is awake too and has found a ball. He’s squeaking what’s left of the squeaker. Or shaking his turkey stuffed toy around that’s missing a leg and has a chunk taken out of it’s neck. I hear it slam against his face as he shakes it and growls into it. I imagine the cloud of “turkey fuzz” as we have begun to call it floating around his head shaken loose from the nearly decapitated stuffed turkey. Adding more mess to my already very hairy kitchen floor.

Never again will I buy another one of those toys. It’s officially banned for life.

I’m still counting stairs hoping not to trip.

There are some things I fight over with my dogs, and there are other things where I just give up because.. well because they’re Huskies.

I open the door to Cheyenne stretching and howling a “good f&*^ing morning, bitch. I need to pee.” She has a foul mouth. And can be rather rude at times.

Rodeo has again devised a new way to greet me with a slick way of hitting where he pretends to stretch but he hits you in the leg.

“We don’t hit, Rodeo”

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Rodeo has this new obsession with hitting. He’s like a horrible little toddler that’s forever stuck in the same phase of hitting. I have caught myself constantly reprimanding him with a “WE DON’T HIT, RODEO” but he doesn’t give a shit. He still hits.

And then he has been asked to step back away from the door jamb as “You don’t need to be a Bull, Rodeo”

I absentmindedly wonder why this dog is the death of me. And then I remember he’s a Husky. And he’s a Reddog.

This started out as something a lot different. A general bitching diatribe of how I cannot stand Rodeo some days (read: most days) and how Cheyenne can be so GOOD and then just BAM she takes off after the idiot herding dog as they fly across the street after ‘something’ that Ewetard was barking at 20 minutes ago. Or Ewe- and how much he makes me want to just in general scream and send him off in a UPS box back to the Aussietard factory.

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But then life happened. And I was smacked with a reminder of sad reality.

A Husky family member passed away this past week. Her life would have “most likely” been shorted by her hydrocephalus… but it didn’t take away the pain that shook our whole Husky community when she suddenly passed away due to surgery complications. Which were completely unrelated to her medical condition. And more related to the fact that she was a fucking Husky. And liked to eat shit she wasn’t supposed to.

I was then thrown back into the memory of wishing I could hear Mickeys horribly obnoxious peeping just one more time. How I would give anything to see him just be a jerk. Just one more time. And then I thought about a life without a Reddog that hits. Or Ewe that barks the moment he is somewhat excited and immediately seeks out a ball to squeak and take out his frustrations on. Or a day without doing a voice-over translations of Cheyenne’s howls, woo’s and general looks of i-hate-you and fuck-my-life.

And at those thoughts- I cried.

No- fuck that. Let’s be real. I bawled.

I hope everyone has the chance to be blessed with a dog that incessantly peeps, or rings their potty bells for funzies, or smacks you in the face, or barks for no reason, or is just otherwise a crazy asshat jerk face dog. I never again want a “normal” dog. I want idiosyncrasies. I want weirdos. I want freak dumpy dogs. I want them to dig themselves into my heart so deep I can never hear the ring of a bell or the incredibly obnoxious over-squeak of a ball without being throw right back into those moments.

These dogs dig holes (both literal and figurative) really deep and really fast into our hearts. And the bigger the pain in the ass they are- the bigger the hole. And the harder it becomes to patch- let alone fill. The harder to heal. Losing Mickey was so hard because of how much he drove me nuts at times. Because of how much we worked to be such a good team. Because of how well he could push my buttons. Because of how many tears I shed on his furry fuzzy neck bitching about all my idiotic human complaints.

So this is a PSA, folks: hug your shit head dogs. The bigger the shit head- the bigger the hug. Get on the floor with them. Love on them. Blow fart noises on their belly, they love that (Cheyenne- i’m coming for you, bitch.) And while you’re in the middle of i’m-about-to-lose-my-shit or as you’re stuffing your herding dog in a Flat rate box… Remember that there will be one day that they won’t be there. You can’t prevent that. So don’t waste the time that you have with them today being angry or annoyed with them or otherwise not loving the shit out of them.

Love them. Love your asshole dogs.

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I’m a dog snob- Why I hate facebook dog groups. And why you make me gag.

Sometimes I wonder why I even bother with facebook groups. Especially dog related groups.

“Jesus Christ Kristina- get off the f#$%ing computer you’re just going to piss yourself off.”

Yes. I know. I KNOW.

But… I can’t help it.

And you know what I also can’t help?

My instantaneous gag reflex when someone mentions they’re “thinking” about breeding in the future so they don’t want to chop their dogs balls off. Or how their dog is “rare” *gag gag vomit vomit* and they want to make more RARES. Do you understand how much rage you evoke?? Do you? DO YOU? Probably not.

I will admit. I- am a dog snob.

When I see you clicking and tapping all over your phone and computer looking at FindPuppiesOnlineToday.com … It is ridiculously hard for me to contain my uninhibited rage and urge to punch you in the face. You obviously have internet connection. We’ve all heard of Google. Why in the name of doG are you still under the impression that some random website or puppy store is a GOOD place to buy a puppy? It makes me cringe. And vomit.

There’s a lot of vomiting, obviously.

No breeder that’s worth anything puts their puppies on OnlinePuppiesDelievered.com nor Craigslist nor Ebay classifides nor do they spam post their puppies on a facebook group. It just doesn’t happen- you hear me? THIS ISN’T SOMEONE YOU WANT TO BUY FROM.

Also- if they’re flashing Lisa Frank-esque puppy GIF’s and there’s Paypal buttons everywhere you look… You need to run. Run far away.

Another thing that makes me want to rip my own eyeballs out is when someone links their “breeder” and the first thing I see (flashing in all it’s Lisa Frank glory) is that there are 3, yes THREE, litters due for THE HOLIDAYS!

Oh, wow, idiot behind the keyboard… You’ve picked a winner there. 15+ puppies will be around just in time for the slew of spoiled children who want a PUPPY FOR CHRISTMAS. The joy.

*gag*

I could go on all day. Really. I could. There are so many times I work myself up into such a rage the only thing that will satisfy me is slamming my face into the keyboard. But even that doesn’t cut it some days.

We live in the age of technology and instantaneous information. Google is an amazing thing! Each breed has a breed club where they HELP you find a breeder or a puppy that is worth supporting. Someone who cares about their dogs enough to make sure they are doing the best they can to give you the healthiest dog possible. Health tested for the majority of the most common ailments of your chosen breed. They know this breed inside and out because they are just as obsessed with them  as I am about my own dogs. They’re all dog snobs. And there’s nothing WRONG with being a dog snob. Because dog snobs care about not just our own dogs but the overall health of ALL dogs. But we can’t begin to turn things around until the general population becomes smarter and stops lining the pockets of people who aren’t doing their dogs justice.

Don’t fall into the trap of funding a poor breeder.Find someone worth your time and money and you will get a healthier more stable dog. Or find a rescue and save a dog who’s already waiting for a home. And you too can become a dog snob. And the world will be a better place.

 

 

How to piss people off who have dogs when you have a small dog. Or a rude dog. Or if you’re just a jerk.

While waiting for my whiny crybaby dogs (mostly the red ones) to calm down and quiet down enough to warrant getting out of the truck, I absentmindedly wonder why we go through this charade every time we unload. …Rodeo being frustrated as usual and trying to mouth one of the girls in protest to which they reply with a Husky over-emotional open mouthed growl/roar (which I literally could translate into “STOP IT YOU IDIOT.”) I stare at my lovely little perpetual teenage Reddog with a fondness that only someone who truly appreciates those lovely little Husky idiosyncrasies could have. Also someone who is insane. You have to be insane to love this Reddog.

Eventually we make it out of the truck and into the front entrance of the P-A-R-K. It’s big, and is separated into 3 different sections. As we enter the double gate into the atrium area we get the usual “OH, hey! Shouldn’t you have a sled!”

And they chuckle to themselves. They obviously (as well as the literal thousand other people who utter that horrible horrible joke to us) think its just hilarious and totally original. It’s not.

“Oh, yeah” I reply rather un-enthusiastically.

My frustrated Rodeo has not let this moment of us not moving solely in the direction of the park gates go unnoticed and in response he throws a small screaming tantrum to which the girls reply, again, with a “STOP IT YOU IDIOT.”

Inside… I sometimes just want to cry at how ridiculous this dog can be.

We pass into the first gate into a small “queue” area so certain dogs (COUGH COUGH *wink wink*) don’t slip the gate and take off while it’s being opened. We pass a sign that has been there for at least the past 5 years declaring this side of the dog park for “DOGS OVER 25LBS.” You really need to have a serious vision problem not to see this sign.

The herd is unleashed and allowed in one-by-one (which provokes another round of commentary and a Reddog tantrum) and they take off for the middle of the park in our predetermined order (usually less obnoxious to most obnoxious). Finally, Rodeo bulldozes his way in (clearly- most obnoxious) and a gleeful severely modified game of chase begins between my pack of idiot dogs. Because most times they’re not really chasing much of anything, just running in a direction (with Ewe flanking or taking up the rear, toy in mouth, and BARK BARK BARKing) and at random intervals one will switch direction and the rest are elated in this major development in the game and take off in this new fun and exciting direction.

And that’s usually when I see it. While they’re in the middle of their own world of Husky-Aussie-ness there is a small dog (or 2 or 4) either panicked by the sudden movement of dogs literally 10 times their size (and there’s freakin 6 of them) or they decide to crash our party of “run-in-a-direction-randomly.”

And that’s the moment I want to leave.

And cry.

And throw a bitch fit.

It’s not that I don’t trust my dogs with smaller dogs, I do. And it’s not that I care for your small dog, because I really don’t. But all it takes is that dog (or 2 or 4) to be in the wrong place and get stepped on, hit, or knocked over. And then it will probably start shrieking. And there’s going to be a full on panic.

And who are you going to panic to? Me. You’re going to come after me.

And that is completely stupid. And unfair. And just plain uncool, bro.

Because that dog that now resembles a pancake isn’t my dog. I didn’t walk it in here blatantly ignoring the huge sign where it pretty clearly indicates to you that 10-15lb dog isn’t appropriate here. You did that. You put your dogs safety at risk because you like this side better. Or because your dog doesn’t like small dogs. Or because of whatever excuse you could possibly have. And now because you did that- your dog is probably hurt.

When I bring my dog into a public place, I take full responsibility of my dog. As such, protecting your dog should be 1st priority.

About a year and a half ago I was at a dog lake with Ewe, my Aussie (with the highly confusing name.) He has reactivity issues (BARK BARK BARKing) and as such we made accommodations for ourselves and chose a spot that was empty and set away from the majority of “normal” dogs. An intact male dog wandered up to us and began to try to mount my dog. So we moved. And we moved. And I looked for you- his owner. Where were you? Did you not see me clearly trying to make space? Clearly trying to avoid an issue?  Your dog obviously becoming more and more persistent (to the point of biting and snapping at my dogs neck.) And after 10 minutes of trying to redirect YOUR dog, my dog, block YOUR dog, remove your dog safely from MY dog, and move further and further away… I was pretty sick and tired of LOOKING for you to hopefully come and retrieve your dog and remove it before it caused a serious issue.

This situation didn’t turn into a dog fight thankfully. However the people on the other side of the lake (after you were moved down there by the park attendant) weren’t so lucky.

If I see a crowd of rough dogs or if there’s a dog who is consistently picking fights- I leave. If my dog can’t handle being around large crowds of people (or it just makes them straight up anxious as hell) I leave them home. If they are having a ‘bad day’ at the park I leash them up and keep them occupied with me. And that’s what every dog deserves. Your dog doesn’t choose it’s outings- you do.

Your small dog is SAFER with the other small dogs (or perhaps in a small group in a neighbors yard if he “doesn’t like” other small dogs.)

Your dog who’s breed is already in jeopardy due to stigma and irresponsible ownership (this ones for you, dog lake asshat) should be set up for success and removed before a problem can even begin.

You should ALWAYS keep your eye on your dog while in a place like a dog park. And as such your dog who isn’t friendly with other people or dogs shouldn’t be off leash in a public place.

Your dog who is under socialized and is full on FREAKING the F out- DOESN’T belong at Starbucks on a busy Saturday morning!

And most of all: Use common sense folks. For the love of all that is doG.

Ewe: the not-a-sheep sheepdog, who likes to BARK BARK BARK.

About 2 years ago I was doing what I always did at work (AMBER DO NOT READ THIS I AM ALWAYS WORKING AT WORK) and leisurely scrolling through petfinder. Because. That’s normal. I was kinda thinking about another dog. But let’s just be honest here- when am I *not* potentially looking for another dog. In my casual perusing I came across an Aussie with a tail that hadn’t been docked. He was quite frankly freakin’ adorbz. I probably looked back at his picture quite a few times (a day…) over the next week (JUST KIDDING I WAS WORKING LIKE ALWAYS,) At which point I decided resistance was futile and I should just send them an email. A week later, once the other people who were supposedly interested didn’t show up, I was driving back home from Clewiston with an Aussie in my truck. Who saw that coming??!!!

Spoiler alert: everyone saw that coming.

Within the first few days I realized he had some issues that needed to be worked out which sent me (of course) to the internet. I joined forums and facebook groups and tried to find a way to work through what I now know is reactivity towards other dogs and people  (aka I-like-to-bark-at-shit syndrome) if there is a “percieved barrier.” Essentially he looses his marbles if he’s on the leash or behind a fence and another dog or human approaches. He’s also extremely sensitive to movement and highly aroused dogs. By that I mean he will continue to lose his marbles if the dogs are running around, whining, or just generally not sitting completely still being utterly boring. He also hates my brother.

In short: BARK BARK BARK BARK

Unfortunately a lot of “advice” I came into contact with essentially said to learn to live with it, don’t take him in public, don’t take him to the dog park ect. ect. ect… Which honestly kind of pissed me off. Like- he’s a dog for christssake. I want to do dog things WITH him. He wasn’t nasty or aggressive- he just has a control issue and likes to run his mouth. I mean, I totally get that, dawg (ha- see what I did there?? See that?! OK i’m done.)

Regardless- I found little to no help. So I turned to traditional or ‘punishment’ based training. Not because I hated my dog or wanted him to be in pain or wanted him to associate pain with his “triggers” (which is what tends to happen, BTW) but because it was all I knew in regards to fixing behaviors. I know I can create behaviors with reward based training, it just never occurred to me you can extinguish or replace behaviors without using force.

So I began to correct him for barking. And I continued to correct him for barking. And still continued to correct him for barking…

And you know what he kept doing? Barking.

To make matters worse- it just seemed like he became more and more sneaky about barking. That was actually more obnoxious than the original BARK BARK BARKing.

And then I remembered a book I had. And I wanted to smack him with it. No- i’m just kidding calm down.

“Control Unleashed” essentially took whatever we were doing, threw it out of a 5th story building, lit it on fire, and then we decided to bake a cake to deal with our issue instead. It turned our interactions with other people while we were out and about into a fun game for my BARK BARK BARKy dog. I began to get excited to encounter other people and other dogs on our walks or our outings.

*Spots person walking dogs 4 blocks away*

*Tries to increase pace and close in the distance without looking like some stalker dog freak armed with a treat bag and a dog with an extremely confusing name*

And Ewe (the BARK BARK BARKing Aussie) began to learn by positive association that the rebellious out-of-control random people and dogs walking around breathing his air… were actually getting him treats. If we saw one: BAM! TREAT! If one barked: BAM! TREAT! If one of those humans mumbled some mumbo-jumbo: BAM! TREATS! If they walked in his holiness’s area: HOLY FOOZEBALLS BATDOG IT’S RAINING FOOD! I think you get the picture. And so did Ewe. And he did so rather quickly.

We steadily improved over the next few weeks. It was awesome, until it wasn’t practical to be 20+ feet away from people or dogs at all times.

While those dogs and people were fine 20+ feet away… More times than not he would still erupt into a crazed herding dog barking manaic if they approached us, or worse, if their dog bombarded towards us reeking of ill-mannered-stupid-dog-that-I-can’t-control. I didn’t know where to go from here, he just wasn’t comfortable being this close to other people and dogs.

So we found ourselves at a small training facility which promotes positive reinforcement and force free training… I’m cheap as hell so since I scored 5 classes for uber cheapness- I figured it was worth a shot at my personal independent pride.

Our first class was a nightmare. Like. I wanted to melt into the wall. And just straight up melt Ewe. He was in reacto-mode and I spent most of the hour long class managing his barking outbursts. We stuck to our small corner of the room and continued to work on his “look at that” game. At the end of class one of the trainers suggested a training protocol called “B.A.T” (a bat? lol no. obviously.)  and said it would probably really help us.

Less than 2 months later I had a new dog. We had practiced BAT (Behavioral Adjustment Training) & LAT (Look at That) sessions at every given opportunity (we were those weirdos sitting outside Starbucks as I sipped my $200 iced coffe drink throwing cookies at my dog for doing nothing other than laying there.) He could go through multiple class sessions and not have an outburst… Even with dogs running around or even having their own i-like-to-bark-at-shit outburst.

Ewe became more and more capable of maintaining self control and chosing not to react. We flourished together. I understood what it was to respect my dog. I didn’t want to ever again punish him for being fearful. I instead always wanted to BE THERE for my dog to show him how to handle these situations or be the one to decide that this situation wasn’t for us and make an exit. I never again wanted to force my dog to do something that makes him completely uncomfortable to the point of shutting down or lashing out ‘just because.’ I wanted him to look to me for leadership and trust, not make him feel as though i’m a giant asshole. I wanted to work together to make our communication stronger everyday. I never ever wanted to use pain or punishment to control my dog again, because I realized it never helped to control it. It only made dog connect the triggers (which already stressed him out and made him anxious) with pain. And made me annoyed because we were getting no-where. Which essentially is going in a big unproductive circle of stupidity.

So take that, roundabout of stupidity! We are done with you. Seriously get the hell out of here.

It took a good consistent 6 months of work to fix the scrabbled egg brains of my silly herding dog, but we made it work. It’s been 2 years and counting of learning new skills and creating our foundation which we each build off of every day. Because we are a team. A strong team. And that’s the best relationship your dog can have with you.

This dog has turned me on to Aussies for life. I don’t know what I would do without my Baa-Ram-Ewe.

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this blog contains uninhibited and unfiltered thoughts, ideas, and ramblin'… mostly about dogs