Monday, July 25, 2011

Getting back to work

Sometimes life throws curveballs at you and your dog, and you have to learn to roll with it.

I've been pretty shaken up by the attack on Scorch, but he seems to have recovered well and taken the whole thing in stride. There's something to be learned there. If my little border collie can be brave and move on with his life after a terrible bite from another dog, maybe I can learn to not overreact to things so much...

...yeah, right. I'll let you know how that goes.

On a brighter note, we got the ok to return to training. Scorch limped for one day, had a minor hitch in his step on day two, and by day three he could not understand why he wasn't allowed to romp and play. During that time, Animal Control continued to investigate until they found the owner and fined him heavily. The owner's father also reimbursed me for my vet bills. So there was a happy ending at least.

I'm starting to realize how stellar Scorch's drop on recall has become... and that I really need to work on EVERYTHING as hard as we've worked on that. I'm also trying to "take it on the road" more, but for now, I feel pretty good about it. His heeling has improved somewhat, but when he's excited and anxious, he reverts to his forge-y ways. Gee, excited and anxious, that NEVER happens at a show... -_-

I'm doing better at staying in a straight line and I think that's part of the reason Scorch's heeling has shown an improvement. Heeling works when the dog isn't afraid of being stepped on or bumped.

His broad jump is the fastest thing I've ever seen. I need to get a video of it. He jumps long and low; there's no little "hop" that I see most other dogs do. He flies over it in a way that looks like it's part of his normal stride. Right now, we're mostly working on jumping straight straight straight. I don't know if there's muscle memory involved but since Scorch is the King Anticipator, I've only asked for a front a couple of times. Everything else has been a straight jump for a toy toss.

Speaking of videos, I have an 8 week old Golden puppy living with me right now (he's not mine, he's from work!). We've had to have several incarnations of baby-gate containment because he's very determined to escape. Here is a video of his early efforts:

Note the carpet has some (cleaned) wet spots. He was baby-gated and had finally stopped crying. I was so proud, until I realized he was quietly waiting for me to emerge from the bedroom and play with him. Of course during that time, there were some accidents, but he was actually pretty good considering.

Norman's head is about to explode from all the dogs that have been coming in. Hopefully we'll be back down to 3 for a while... God, I remember when I thought 3 was a lot of dog!

Thursday, July 7, 2011


Writing this is really hard... we'll see if I can get through it.

First, let me start by saying that Scorch, Norman, and I are ok, and we're going to be ok.

Last night, I took the two dogs (Wolfie is out of town with Bryan) on one of our usual routes. A few dogs barked and charged fences, which provided me a good chance to work on Norman's attention. However, there is one house that contains three boxers and a pit bull. The house is ~600 square feet. There are plywood sheets on the windows (to prevent the dogs from going through them, I've always assumed) and boards over the bottom part of the doorway. The dogs always bark and carry on when we walk by.

As we approached the house, I was paying attention to Norman when I heard a neighbor scream, "Watch out!" I looked up to see the door to the tiny house was open and one of the boxers had almost broken through the boards. Before I had time to think, they were out. I scooped Norman up as the 4 charged us.

The boxers stopped. The pit bull hit Scorch like a mack truck, grabbed his leg, and started shaking it violently.

It's all a blur of hackles, sceaming (mine and Scorch's), kicking, neighbors jumping in. It seemed to last an eternity. One of the neighbors swatted the pit bull with a towel and, shockingly, that stopped the assault (and kicking didn't?). They told me later that the owner (who wasn't home) uses a towel to swat at the dog to break up fights in the house.

Those kind, saintly neighbors corralled the dogs into the house and came to check on us. Scorch was limping badly, although we couldn't find any punctures at the time. Everyone else was unharmed. I gave the neighbors my contact information and walked home.

If that couple had not been outside... I was screaming "HELP!" and no one else came... if they hadn't been there, the consequences would have been far greater. I can't even think about it... the very notion makes me want to vomit.

I have never NOT been able to stop a charging dog before. That dog neatly swerved around me and attacked with more force than I've ever witnessed. To her credit, her aggression is truly dog-directed; she demonstrated none towards myself or my helpers. But it is fierce and deadly. I am a terrier proponent, and a pit bull one at that. But that dog is out of control.

I've had a theory that the owner doesn't even live there full time, but the dogs do. They're fat, underexercised, and understimulated. When I got home, I called the police and filed a report. They sent an ACO to meet me at the emergency clinic, where we found 3 serious punctures and several smaller ones. The ACO went right to the house, where still no one was home. He saw the conditions, so I hope that alone sparks action. I'm sure I'll never see a dime for my vet bills, but I want to hit this guy where it hurts: his wallet. Those dogs are in a dangerous situation and every dog who passes the house is in danger.

Scorch had a rough night on Acepromazine and neither of us got much sleep. He went to work with me today and played the pathetic card VERY well. He was the darling of the campus and garnered sympathy everywhere he went. When people would fawn over him, he would grunt and whine; we joked he was "telling the story". We did a careful intro with a coworker's non-threatening basset hound that went well. I want to make sure he gets slow reintroductions to only submissive, gentle dogs.

This certainly puts a damper in our plans to debut in Open under our favorite judge. That was supposed to happen at the end of this month. Hopefully August isn't out of the question, but the most important thing is that my dog is ok. And also that the asshat owner down the street gets what's coming to him.