Wednesday, July 9, 2008


Well, I've been avoiding this thing lately. Mainly because I'm still avoiding the vet appointment in my memory. I think when I cope better with what happened without falling into that self-hating, depressed mode I'll write about it. But right now... it's almost safer to get some distance from it. I can at least type this without feeling like I'm about to break down, so that's improvement. For the record, no one got hurt.

However, the real purpose of this blog is on the fact that we're watching my aunt's dog today, tomorrow and Friday. It never occurred to anyone in the family - including me - that this would be a problem. Toby and Shelby have always gotten along... no matter where we were at. They've lived peacefully together in campers, at Shelby's house, at any other of our relatives houses... Shelby is one of those quiet, calm dogs whose absolutely no trouble. She's also female... Toby's never had a problem with a female before. Ever. And shoot, to top it all off... They started off great. Their normal calm meet and then they forgot about each other, lounging around the house. My brothers and parents could all play and pet Shelby and nothing changed.

Then I come home. We haven't had any scuffles or anything, but if I so much as look Shelby's way Toby is stepping between us. The only way I can pet her is by putting him in a sit/wait on one side of me and having her on the other and pet them both at the same time. But if I'm not very clear that I want Toby to follow me when I'm done he heads straight for Shelby, smelling her over, sometimes his tail is up, sometimes not. He just has this weird, overly excited look in his eye. If she tries to petition petting from me he splits between us, blocking her access. And heaven forbid if she gets excited and jumps or play bows at me. His eyes nearly bugged out of his head when she did that and the only thing that kept him from rushing over and posturing was the fact that I stepped in between them and told him to back off.

This has never happened before. I've played with Shelby wildly, running around her back yard and he never cared. He'd either watch or join in, completely relaxed. Shelby has always been one of his buddies. Not the over the top, OMG I'm excited to see her type of buddy... but they've always acted like extended housemates. Happy to see each other, petition play when they want... shoot they've always gotten along better than even our little dog Reba and Toby do sometimes. And Shelby's not the problem... I'm fairly certain there. Yes, she's watching me and just waiting for me to cue her to come get petted (she's a very restricted dog, her upbringing was very, very strict...) but that's nothing new. She looks away, arcs around, yields to Toby... shoot, Reba just snapped at her (Reba can't see and Shelby just stepped on her tail, whoops). Nothing.

I'm a bit torn in how to handle this. I don't want to entice a fear response in anyone... I've toyed with the idea of desensitizing the situation. Except, Shelby can't have anything outside her kibble - which she's not in the mood for. And Toby doesn't seem food motivated at the moment. If I'm out of the room, he'd take it no problem, if I'm in the room... we're treading his threshold I guess. He'll take it and it's give or take on whether he'll eat. He did just eat dinner (which I always carefully monitor... him and Reba like to try and switch, even though she can't reach his and that doesn't always go over well). Shelby was in the room and less than a foot from me. As long as I wasn't touching her and he knew what I wanted him to do (to eat) he was fine.

-sighs- Well, I'm not reading my book downstairs tonight like I planned. At the moment I'm relegated to my room while I let things resettle downstairs. I wish I knew if I was doing anything... but when I came home I was confident and relaxed. I'd seen them all lounging about in the house and had no worries. At the moment I'm puzzled but I don't feel too stressed by anything because in this situation Toby seems to be responding best as long as I've given him clear directions and am ignoring Shelby. The poor girl. She loves attention.


Champion of My Heart said...

I'm not an expert on resource guarding, but it sounds like he might be trying to control access to you. Lilly does that pretty often too.

So, then the question is ... if you are part of the trigger, how can you train around the issue?

Val said...

Beats me. This is out of my normal stuff that I've researched with him. So I wasn't at all sure how to go about training around the issue. Still not sure...

But things have gotten better. At first I could only pet Shelby (the dog we're watching) if they were each on a different side of me. As long as I gave him something to do, he was fine. By the end of last night he was laying calmly across the room while I petted Shelby. Sleepy eyes and everything.

This morning he was a bit tense, but he's gone back to being calm with this new situation for the most part. I'll have put today's little blurb up in a post.