Scaredy dog

Sierra has her very first playdate this weekend and this time it’s only me taking her out as my boyfriend is allergic to dog saliva and wants to stay home to complete other chores.

(This is where all my friends and family who have met or spent anytime at all with my dog would insert hysterical laughter.)

(Also, this is where all my readers with human children would roll their eyes and probably click to the next blog.)

My dog, my sweet little beagle with the floppy ears and deep brown eyes, is a bitch. By all definitions of the word. Truly, she doesn’t think she’s a dog. And it probably doesn’t help that I don’t treat her like a dog, either, with all the coddling and baby talk (and don’t think for a minute that Roth doesn’t do that stuff, too, despite what he says). Lately, I’ve referred to her as my humine child – mostly human, with a little bit of canine on the side. I have to get her a certain type of food, or she will refuse to eat. click here to learn about the food I get her.

Seriously, she does not like other dogs. So why subject her bitchiness on another seemingly normal dog? See, like any good parent, I have hope for my dog. Hope that someday, it will all click in her beagle head that she is, in fact, a dog. A dog that doesn’t duck and cover when another dog runs by. A dog that wants to frolic freely among the tall grasses at an off-leash dog park. A dog that doesn’t completely crumble into a pile of squirmy nerves when she hears a rumbly truck drive by or the faint pop of a firecracker somewhere in the stratosphere. But alas, we are still plagued by these issues.

If I think back to her puppyhood, I can pinpoint the exact incident that transformed her from a dog into something else altogether. When she was four months old, and she’d had all of her puppy shots, I took her to an off-leash dog park for the first time. At this park (back in California), there were two yards – one for small dogs, and one for big dogs. Obviously, at four months old, she should’ve been taken into the small dog yard. But there were no dogs for her to play with in the small dog yard, and there were all sizes of dogs in the big dog yard. I decided to chance it and let her play in the big dog yard.

First mistake of the day. Right away, she was bumrushed by all the dogs. They each took turns sniffing her up and and down. She looked a little scared, but she remained calm, even when a thick, muscley bulldog came right up to her. This bulldog, or should I say bull-y-dog, was relentless. He would not leave her alone. Eventually, she submitted and rolled onto her back, which I knew was an obvious sign of fear on her part. Before I knew what was happening, the bulldog had her head in his mouth and she was crying out as if she was being murdered. Dogowners from all around lunged onto the bulldog, desperately trying to pull it off of my puppy, while I stood by, screaming and yelling.

It was absolutely horrible. Sierra would not stop crying these ear-piercing, bleating howls, and there was blood gushing from her ear and onto my clothes. I panicked, as any parent would, not knowing what to do next. The bulldog’s owner was extremely apologetic, even offered to pay the vet bill. She admitted that her dog was slightly retarded and didn’t always know when to stop harassing other dogs to play. Which, hello! You don’t bring a dog like that to a public off-leash park. But I digress. Sympathetic people were offering to drive us to an emergency vet. It was a nightmarish turn of events.

Second mistake of the day. Even though I had my own car and was capable of driving myself and Sierra to a vet, I let this woman talk me into having her come along with me, to hold the dog, I guess, who was now foaming at the mouth and shaking uncontrollably. This woman was not an average woman. Oh no. She was a Wrangler-wearing, mullet-sporting bull dyke of a woman. With her own giant dog that had to come along in the back seat.

As we speedily drove along Highway 101 en route to the only emergency vet open on the weekend, Charlene (as was her real name – no need for an alias in this situation) proceeded to talk my ear off about dog park etiquette, how she would be a witness for me if I needed to seek legal action, how she and her girlfriend go to that particular park often, how that dog owner had no business to bring her retarded dog there, all the while holding my baby, who I imagined was spiraling into some sort of trauma-induced coma and would never, ever forgive me.

Then Charlene began asking me questions – did I have a boyfriend? Where did we live? What did we do for a living? Did my boyfriend treat me well? Did I want her to be my bitch? OK, she didn’t ask that last one, but I was getting nervous, with all rapid-fire questions. And then she showed me her rather large pocket knife (no joke) and said she wasn’t afraid to use it. Not on me, I suspected, but maybe on the other dogowner? I don’t know. It was weird, and scary, and I had no way out.

We arrived at the vet, where Sierra was rushed inside. While she was being examined, Charlene and I sat together in the lobby and waited. I called Roth and told him where I was, even tried to explain who I was with without saying too much about her character. She chatted with her girlfriend via cell phone, telling her about me, and what had happened. After what seemed like hours, the vet came out and said that Sierra would be OK, she just needed some tissue glue on her ear, but that they would keep her there for a few hours, just to monitor her recovery. Relieved, I realized there was nothing more I could do. But I still had this woman with me. With her fluffy white, shedding-all-over-the-place dog in the back seat.

I drove her back to the dog park, in silence mostly, and prayed that she wouldn’t make some kind of move, romantically or otherwise. We pulled up to her truck, and she got out. She kind of lingered a bit, as if I might hug her, or ask her to come to my house sometime. She gave me her number, in case I needed a witness, and said goodbye. As I drove away, I hunched down in my seat and let out a huge sigh of relief. What the hell had just happened? I had blood all over my clothes and white dog fur all over my back seat. No one would ever believe how it all went down.

And yet? My dog was forever scarred from the experience – both physically and mentally – and ever since, she has shunned any and all dogs that have ever tried to cross her path. Not even the dog food for hunters I’d got her changed her disposition towards other animals. Can you blame her? I’ve been bit by dogs, too, and I wholeheartedly subscribe to the philosophy of “once bitten …” So I can’t really blame her for wanting to disassociate herself from the canine kingdom. She is a bitch, but with good reason.

But we have this playdate on Sunday with another local beagle named Bailey. Bailey was trained to help people with PTSD – you can read more here at https://usserviceanimals.org/blog/ptsd-service-dog-tasks and I warned Bailey’s dad that Sierra is really “shy,” which is usually how I describe her aversion to other dogs, but he seemed to think all of us meeting would be OK.

Little does he know that Sierra’s issues run deep. But again, I have that hope. Hope that she won’t work herself up to the point of puking at the dog park, and then defend said puke to the death from other curious dogs, and then eat the puke, out of principle alone. Yeah, that totally didn’t happen one time.

(It totally did.)

Pictures (and possibly video) of this weekend’s imminent carnage to follow.

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8 Comments

  1. Sierra totally needs to hang out with Sophie. Sophie is scared of everything and I always pass her off as shy instead of crazy. Although her shyness also extends to people and she takes awhile to warm up or she never does, it just depends. I guess as long as she likes me and my husband it shouldn’t matter but I can’t help but wishing she wasn’t so nuts and I could let her roam free with other dogs. Maybe someday…probably not…

  2. Oh, that is so sad. I am always terrified of what other dogs could do to Gus because he’s so submissive. Again, with the not thinking he’s a dog. He’s actually a little boy who is kind of afraid of dogs. I wonder what will happen when his human brother is born?

  3. Is the Bailey beagle from Sammamish? I’m a lurker of your blog from Sammamish (Now in Pullman).. and my neighbors have one named Bailey.. anyhow. Yeah. Okay. :)

  4. OMG…as a fellow beagle owner….I totally understand…it’s not in a Beagle’s nature to like other dogs anyway (they are kinda regarded that way) and then add a traumatic experience…it’s a recipe for disaster…poor litlte girl!
    Our dog, Genghis (yes, named after a warlord) used to lay on his back and pee himself every time a bigger dog would come around (no, it was not embarassing, at all…)…until we started bringing him to the off-leash dog park…which thankfully went very well…he’s stilll not very good at
    “playing” with other dogs… but he kinda runs around alot….snifs them, the fence…and sometimes howls at them…and looks like he is having fun…in a Beagle kind of way!
    Glad Sierra is OK…good luck with doggy date!
    PS – I’ll send you an email abotu next thursday! yay!

  5. Mike

    Excellent blog and thanks for the opportunity to share my thoughts here. I also love dogs and I decided to put together a website dedicated to dog training. However, I am actually trying to offer both some general tips for training your dog and some breed-specific training techniques. I believe each dog breed is slightly different and thus requires an adaptation of the standard dog training methods, to suit the breed’s behavioral patterns and genetic predispositions.
    This is why I believe there is quite a bit of difference between old Danish pointer training and Thai Ridgeback dog training. Each breed has its own distinct personality, and an independent breed like the husky will be different when it comes to obedience training than a bulldog or a ridgeback.
    There are hundreds of dog breeds I wish to cover and I am only half way through, but I hope to turn my site in the best dog training resource on the Internet quite soon.
    An excellent day to everyone reading this!
    Michael R.
    Webmaster – expert dog training advice at http://www.expert-dog-training.com

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