Sunday, August 28, 2011


Well, Scorch has had a few hiccups in his recovery from the dog attack. Not physical, mind you; he is healthy as a horse. But mentally, he has had a few setbacks that we're working on.

Right after the attack, he came to work with me. One of our techs had brought her extremely sweet, very non-threatening female Basset mix. So Scorch had his first strange dog greeting with her, and it went great. I also paraded in a host of strange dogs for board-and-train or dog sitting. All of this, he took in stride.

However, when he started regularly coming to work with me, things changed.

He didn't much care for Bentley, the 6 month old intact male Lab we shared an office with. Ok, yeah, he'd met Bentley when he was 12 weeks old and they were fine together, but now a lot of time has elapsed and Bentley is a teenager, so his intolerance is understasndable. He also didn't care for the boys Hartwell, 10 month old intact Lab, and Hamish, 2 year old intact Golden Retriever. But Scorch has never liked unneutered males, so I let that slide.

But Troy, the long-neutered, friendly, 5-year old Australian Shepherd? He usually LOVES Aussies! Two female Bulldog puppies in class? Why is he growling and snapping at them? The clincher for me though was Duke... the realization finally kicked in that we have some work to do. Duke is a rescued pit bull mix one of my coworkers brings in. He's young, playful, sweet, and neutered. Usually that would be Scorch's ideal playmate.

But we couldn't even walk past their office without Scorch hackling up and making a wide berth, usually while pursing his lips or even showing his teeth. Scorch was afraid of the dog who resembled his attacker, and was going on the offensive. Duke wasn't even bothering to get up when we passed by and Scorch was still freaked out.

So we've been playing the "look at that!" game, taught to us by one of our mentors. I think it comes from Control Unleashed, but I'm not sure. Anyway, every time we'd get near one of the dogs he didn't care for (especially Hamish and Duke), I'd tell Scorch, "Look at that!" When he'd glance at the dog, he'd get a treat. It only took a few repetitions for him to start tolerating their presence.

We have a play yard at work for the pups (heaven!) and while we had a group out there, someone brought Hartwell out. I was worried about Scorch... but I waited it out because Hartwell is such a NICE dog. Sure enough, with some careful supervision, Scorch decided he no longer wanted to eat Hartwell... instead, we got obnoxious, herding-type behavior (barking, heel-biting, increased barking when Hartwell would stop to sniff something), which Hartwell thought was delightful, so we let it go.

Then later, Duke came out to play. Scorch would start to play with him, then would get a little skittish and slink away. Duke, despite his youth, was VERY respectful of this and patiently waited for Scorch to come to him.

So... we're making progress. Scorch doesn't have to like everyone, and border collies are notoriously picky anyway. But I want him to at least ignore dogs he doesn't like; I never want my boy to be afraid ever again.




Nicki said...

Poor kid. Sounds like you have lots of chances to help him revover though. Good luck.

Molly said...

Poor Scorch! You are so on top of this though, sounds like he's doing much better!