Tuesday, March 2, 2010

The Doggie in the Window

Around October of 2001 Main Lady's dog Snella (a Swedish term of endearment) passed away from natural causes.  Anyone who has lost a dog will automatically know the emotional turmoil that goes along with having to give your dog up; for those of you who don't, I'm not going to bother explaining - you wouldn't get it anyway.  A few weeks after we lost Snella, in the first part of November, my father called me up and told me that his neighbors Sue and Joe had found a stray dog and were looking for a home for him, and that he was a good looking dog.  I decided to take a look and see for myself.

Sue and Joe have a horse barn and keep about ten horses, including a few that they board.  Sue had a stable girl she hired to help with the work, Kelly, who adored animals of all kinds.  I got the dog's story from Sue, who told me that she was driving out on County Road V in the middle of nowhere when their truck broke down.  While she was trying to decide just what to do, a little dog came trotting out of the woods to say hello.  He was hungry and thirsty, so Sue put him in the truck with her, intending to find him a home.  It turned out that the little boy still had his puppy teeth, so Sue got him his shots and kept him out at the barn, Joe stating emphatically that three large dogs and a pot bellied pig should be more than enough for any household.  Kelly took one look at the little boy and adopted him on the spot, buying him a collar, food and water dishes and a toy.  Kelly's father took a look at the dog and sent him back to the barn on the same day.

I liked the little dog.  He was friendly and seemed inquisitive, so I allowed as how I'd take him home and see what Main Lady had to say.  He hopped right into my car and made himself comfortable in the passenger seat, and Kelly crossed me off her Christmas list.  I was a little uncertain about the reception we might get as it had only been a few weeks since Snella passed away, but I needn't have worried.  Main Lady took one look at him and exclaimed, "Oh look!" and scooped him up in her arms.

The little dog weighed ten pounds, most of which seemed to be legs and tail.  We needed a name for him.  Main Lady wanted to call him Snugglefluff Snickerdoodle.  I wanted to name him Killer Butch, after the famous German Shorthair Pointer of the same name, you see.  Main Lady suggested a compromise; we could name him Rocky.  I later lengthened this to Rachmaninoff, as the little dog was much too important to be named Rocky.  I will only refer to him as Rocky for brevity's sake.

Rachmaninoff is the smartest dog I've ever owned.  He learned how to sit and stay before he got his adult dental work.  We hung a bell on a string from the back door which Rocky learned to ring so as to be taken on a dog walk.  He was immediately house trained and has only had one accident, which was my fault.  I didn't understand he needed to go out again.  If I take him for a walk when Main Lady isn't home, he'll note the presence of Main Lady's car in the driveway upon our return and associate the car in the driveway with her presence in the house.

Rocky weighs about 50 pounds.  He absolutely loves his family, and he is very good with other dogs and cats.  He shares his food with the cat.  I taught him to let any of us take food out of his mouth while he's eating, which is a very valuable asset for any dog.  Rocky is just about perfect except for one thing: he bites.

 When he was still a puppy Rocky would react very badly to children and to the school bus.  To this day he hates children and doesn't tolerate their presence well.  Joggers and bicyclists who pass us are just begging to be run down and hamstrung.  Anyone who approaches is a threat.  Worse, Rocky doesn't give much of a warning.  He doesn't growl or show his teeth - he gets right to the point and tries to bite.  So far he's chomped on Main Lady's eldest little darling (which my brother Mike suggested he get a pass on, and he's right) and he's nailed Main Lady's sister when she kept screwing around with him, which I privately praised him for.  You have to experience this lady for a few hours and you'll see what I'm talking about here.

It gets better.

I cannot for the life of me imagine what goes on Rocky's head, but professional dog handlers have no problem with Rocky at all.  In fact, they think he's the perfect dog.  Main Lady has taken him over to Karnik Pet Lodge to board him when we're both out of town and the staff at Karnik think Rocky is a sterling example of what all dogs should aspire to.  My brother Mike doesn't agree with their opinion.  Mike thinks that Rocky is nuts and that sooner or later all that stuff in his head is going to shake into a new configuration and Mike will end up reading about us in the morning paper.  Personally, I don't think so.  We just aren't that important.

I've never been able to determine what kind of dog Rocky is.  Any suggestions would be appreciated.  His behavior is getting better as he can be taken off the sidewalk and instructed to sit and stay, which he performs very well.  Rocky has been examined by a dog behaviorist which cost several hundred bucks and accomplished absolutely nothing.  The behaviorist confirmed that Rocky's behavior was aggressive, unpredictable and unique.  She hadn't seen anything like it before, but she'd be willing to do another session or more.  Fat chance, lady.

I suppose there are worse things than having an aggressive dog.  I'm out of town a lot and Main Lady lives alone.  Rocky provides an excellent early warning system as well as a first line defense.  Main Lady has a Smith & Wesson model 686 in .357 magnum loaded with red hot hollow point ammunition as the second line of defense.  I guess that's good enough.

And that's my story and I'm sticking to it.  Rachmaninoff got his picture in my profile because it pleased me to put it there.  Anyone who knows what kind of dog Rocky is or has any thoughts on correcting his behavior, please sound off.

1 comment:

molly lamountain said...

Looks to me like your handsome boy is a goldendoodle, which translates into someone breeding Goldens and standard poodles and charging a ridiculous amount of money for what we used to call "mutts." They breed various size poodles with nearly everything now.
Even with as many dogs as I see, I usually forget all the "doodle" options and spend some time going "wow, what kind of dog is that?!" before I think of them. Google some images and see if you agree.
Can't really guess why Rocky decides to bite when he does, especially since you've already brought in a professional trainer who had no idea either. If he were a herding breed, I'd wonder if he isn't trying to run down the equivalent of sheep. Wouldn't hurt to get a second opinion though. Since he could be around for 12 or 15 years, it would probably be money well spent if you can figure it out.