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Dog Psychology

July 18, 2013

Oh – I forgot to mention – one of the other things that might pop up here is the topic of my two dogs.

It’s not that I’m one of these dog-obsessed types who lives, sleeps and breaths all matters canine, it’s just that this summer I’m having to act as amateur psychotherapist to the eldest of our two animals.

At the beginning of the year we had a grand total of zero dogs. We’d rationalized it out that the climate was too hot to be good for a dog, we spent far too much time at work to be able to take care of a dog, and our house was just too small to be healthy for a dog anyway…

You’ve heard of Chinese Water Torture? The drip – drip – drip of relentless tiny drops that wear your nerves to shreds and leave you a quivering wreck, willing to accept any fate, however terrible it might otherwise seem? Well that was my daughter and her persistent plea for a puppy.

So when some neighbors found that their dog was pregnant and they just needed to get rid of the pups we were left with a difficult but almost inevitable decision to make, and once the little guy reached eight weeks he moved in with us. His name is Jasper and he’s everything you expect a puppy to be. Bundles of energy, totally crazy, super-cute fluff ball…and now about seven months old and weighing about 6 kilos. He’s like a mini bulldozer.

Anyway, we took a deep breath, adjusted our lives and the little guy is now a happy little piece of the family. The only problem was that he used to get so depressed after coming back from visiting other families with dogs that we started to wonder whether he actually was happy or not, or whether in fact he was distracted when we were around but spent the rest of his days being miserable, having no other little furry people to play with. In a spontaneous (and probably a little rash) decision, my wife took the bold approach, and before anyone really knew what was happening, a second dog had moved into the house.

jasper

Jasper

Now this guy was a completely different barrel of onions. Five years old, a neglected dog that had been abandoned by his previous owners and probably given a pretty hard time along the way. Instead of bringing home a playmate for Jasper we’ve now found ourselves with Nacho, who is a great little dog in his own particular way, but he’s psychologically fragile and is going to need a lot of work to iron out the wrinkles.

He’s been with us for about two weeks now, and after a very difficult first week during which Jasper could not understand why this new guy kept snarling at him every time he tried to play (remember, this 6 kilo ball of mass puppy energy’s idea of playing is to run full pelt at anything else in the room and see what happens when the two objects make contact…), we’re beginning to make progress.

Like I said, Nacho’s a great dog in a great many ways. He’ll sit and let you scratch his chin from one end of the day to the next if you want. He walks well on a lead, and he’ll walk and walk AND walk as far as you want to go. He’s slotted into his position in the pack perfectly (which is me at the top, all the other humans next, and the doggies at the bottom), but he’s just got some “issues”…

Nacho

Nacho

So in addition to ranting about the state of the world, I’m probably also going to talk a little about the progress we make with our two mutts over the course of the summer, because…well, they’re like kids in a lot of ways, and it’s really hard to remember the little things about your kids as they grow up unless you keep a history of how things went.

They say that having a dog helps you keep your sanity. I think it may be too late for me though…

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