Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Chandler therapy for toy poodles

I was rather surprised to hear from a friend that "Chandler has saved
another dog!" today. My first thought was "Wait...what?" It turns
out that she was speaking behaviorally, but the story is still funny.

About a month ago, we went out hiking with Kit, her sheltie who is
Chan's best friend, and Jess (a friend of Kits) who has a active 14
year old toy poodle named Babe. Babe had been attacked by a golden
retriever a few years ago, and had been afraid of dogs ever since
then. Beforehand, she'd been a very social and happy dog, but now
she'd practically try to climb up her owner's leg if she even saw a
large dog.

Chandler has always been really good with small dogs and is very
social, so we figured he'd be safe to have on the trail with Babe.
Things were going pretty well; all the dogs were offleash and Babe was
relaxing a bit when he passed her on the trail.

Then it happened. Babe was out in front with Jess a few feet behind
her. Chan had been sniffing something, and suddenly decided that he
needed to zoom up the trail and get back out in front. He passed me
at a run, and zipped right past Jess on the narrow trail-only to find
a toy poodle suddenly in his way and very little time to react.

So he jumped right over Babe.

Babe's reaction to having 60 lbs of English Shepherd fly right over
her was the canine version of "AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH! HELPHELPHELP!"

I felt really bad, and was afraid we'd accidentally reinforced the
fear reaction. (In retrospect, I'd do leashed walks before trying an
off-leash walk.)

But apparently since then, Babe has been back to her normal self.
She's happy and wagging out in public, doesn't panic around other
dogs, and will actually greet some of them. The only thing I can think
of is that for her, the absolutely most scary thing of having a big
dog looming over her happened...and she didn't get hurt...and the hike
went on...and the big dog still didn't hurt her.

Today she sniffed noses and rears with Chan and wagged her tail.
English shepherd fly-over therapy is not something I'd repeat, but I'm
happy to say it seems to have worked for Babe. Now all I have to do
is stop laughing...

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