A unexpected guest

Posted by on Oct 3, 2011 in Uncategorized | Comments Off

Winston and Sebastian’s first day together was filled with anything but warm and fuzzy sentiments. Basically, Winston hated him. Turns out our little pound puppy, we loving called “jig-a butt”, for his over-active personality, actually liked being the only dog. Who knew? So, when Sebastian came to visit that afternoon, Winston acted as if his life was coming to an end. Oh, the tragedy, the injustice—his drama queen persona was in full swing.

When I cracked the car door, Seb wasted no time in getting out. He’d been in that car for almost an hour, eye balling the country side the whole way. His wide eyed expression reminded me that of a compulsive gambler dropped off in Vegas and told he had only an hour to play. He an itch he couldn’t wait to scratch. In fact, once all four of his paws hit the dirt, he shot off like a rocket. He raced past Winston, practically spinning him in place.

Only two seconds into this visit, and already my dog had a look of horror on his face. There was no time for Winston to process what was happening, and the look on his face telegraphed only one thought: How dare this trespasser piss on my trees! And when he turned back to me, his steely glare threatening to set me on fire where I stood. I could see his little brain working on how he was going to fix this obvious problem. His eye’s flashed, and a second later—you guessed it—he frantically raced to mark over Sebastian’s scent, thus initiating a territory war like I’d never seen before or since.

Now normally when a strange dog comes onto another dogs land, the formalities of nose touching and the ever famous butt-sniffing follow. And if there’s to be any serious trash-talk, it will happen in those first few moments. As we all know dogs form opinions quickly, but they also work out their problems and move on just as fast. In this case, Sebastian had broken the number one law—he’d forgotten to recognize the top dog on campus. A travesty punishable by death!

As far as I could tell, Sebastian simply felt he had no time for all the red tape. After all, he wasn’t staying. To Sebastian, this was just a day of fun, nothing more, and he was going to take it for all it was worth. If that meant pissing off the home-dog, then so be it. Time was a wasting!

So as I watched my dog, chasing this eleven month old puppy, trying to get a word in edgewise, I began to imagine how the conversation might sound if we could listen in.

“Hey, hey, buddy,” Winston may have said, in a very Robert De Niro sounding voice of course.

“Groovy place, man,” I imagine would be Seb’s come back because I’ve always felt he’d sound something like Scooby Doo!

And the combination of these two famous movie characters paints the perfect picture—opposite from the start.

“I said, hey, ass hole!” Winston never did have any patience.

While Marc and I watched this strange dance, Seb finally turned, and the two boys were finally face to face. We moved closer. And because Winston is known for not playing nice, I knew his tail wagging didn’t mean all had been forgiven. I had reprimands ready, and sure enough, his ears went back just as I was about to yell his name. To Sebastian, all of this was just another game. He shot off again, completely unaware Winston was bent on doing him harm. As he kicked on the afterburners, he cut a turn on a dime, and headed for the open field. The fact that he was off leash, making a beeline for well over three thousand acres of open forest land, had my heart up in my throat.

What was I thinking, letting him off leash? Marc and I were both screaming as they ran aimlessly in circles. First we tried to get Winston back, and when that didn’t work we went back to Sebastian. Nobody was paying us any mind. And like in the grocery store parking lot, it was the humans versus dogs clown act all over again. What a nightmare. I was upset at my dog for not coming when called as he had no excuse while also ticked at myself for letting this all get so out of control. It was border lining funny, stupid funny, and eventually Marc and I just stopped and watched the show.

After a moment, I realized Seb wasn’t going anywhere. Shoot, he didn’t even know where he was. He was just running in circles, burning off months and months of pent up energy, and giving Winston one heck of workout too. So much so, that eventually, Winston just sat down and gave up. Now, three of us watched as Sebastian raced to jump into a nearby creek. I cringed. Great, Danielle will love that!

Sebastian was having the time of his life. With his tongue hanging completely out his mouth, his mouth was turned up in a smile like some kind of cartoon. Even after all this stress, my heart was light. I sudden realized how much he really needed this day, and how good it felt for me to be able to give it to him. Sure, he was a bit unruly, but that wasn’t his fault. He’d had little training. Simply put, he was a good hearted dog that desperately needed to find his place in the world.

Sebastian’s was lost in a world full of kids and busy human schedules. Inside this American household, operating in high gear, nobody had bothered to consider his needs. He was just “the dog”, expected to blend in. It’s an unfortunate truth that as their human counterparts, we often fail to see what it is that makes our Dog’s tick. We don’t realize they’re pack animals by nature, and living in “our” lives every day does not come easy for them. They have an instinctive way of existing that goes against our nature. WE are their pack. They look to us for their rank, their stability. They need a leader and if we cannot clearly show them who is leading, they will lead. This is where all our problems with obedience start. If the dog is not a natural chief, then leading will produce stress and destructive behavior. But no matter the consequences, they will still try to lead because without a leader, the pack will die and life for them is all about survival.

When to eat, when to sleep, and when to travel. None of this makes sense to us as we often live our lives randomly, and soon we find ourselves disciplining a good dog for habits we’ve created. When what they really need is structure, a desire to be an active part of our family. Once that happens, we’re not living with a stranger in our mist, but rather enjoying a productive family member.