Sunday, August 1, 2010

We Don't Like Everyone We Meet

Look at those teeth. Whew.

Josh, my dominant Standard Poodle, walks just a little too close and Delila threatens menacingly. She rises up from the dust to make herself taller than Josh, who's already a tall dog, and curls her lips to expose impressive, meat-tearing fangs

A swath of hair from her neck down to her tail stands rigid.

She's not kidding. She postures, slowly. Stay away, Josh. Stay far, far away. Josh usually retaliates in kind. Not this time. Instead, he shrinks in submission.

Wow. I've never seen such a thing. He shrinks and slinks, slowly, lest he upset her. Wow. Josh, my dominant dog, subordinate.

We are at the Kiwanis Dog Park in Mankato, MN, as are a trio of beautiful, powerful dogs, (front to rear in the photo) Delila, Shep and Rorschach (when he was a puppy, he looked like an ink blot). Shep and Delila, both about 3 years old, are German Shepherd/Malamute siblings rescued from the streets of Kansas City. The Husky Rorschach (Rorsch for short) is 8 and never saw such poverty. He's always been a family dog.

They visit the dog park with Jim, their grandpa of sorts, who sits at a picnic table while the Josh/Delila chapter unfolds. The dogs belong to his daughter. However, they obey Jim, completely.

"Lila," he warns -- in a regular voice; no yelling -- during the Josh/Delila showdown. Delila backs off from Josh, who continues a slow exit from her space. She's made her point (that she's in charge). No need to continue the conversation.

"Oh, she can be a bitch," Jim explains, then storytells about a black ab Delila hates and dog owners who freak when dogs act like dogs and do things like mount each other.

He's so matter-of-fact I like him. I tell him it's the dog owners who cause most of the problems, not the dogs.

He agrees.

Then I tell him I used to be one of those owners, always trying to stop my dogs from being forward, from getting into trouble.

He laughs.

Then I see a young fellow heading toward the park with a little puppy.
Warning signals go off in my head. If Delila does her fang act again, will Josh let it go? Will he spar with her? Will the new dog owner understand?

I can't bear it, so I collect Josh and my other poodle, Jacob (who's been off hunting in the weeds), and we leave the park before any confrontation. But I return, without my dogs, because I want a picture of Jim's three beauties.

What I find floors me: that little puppy gleefully engaged in full play with the three big dogs AND two other dogs hopping around having a grand ol' time.

Delila, the bitch, is a sweetheart. The other dogs love her, play with
her and hop all over her.  There's no growling, no gnashing. She's such a happy, friendly dog.

She just doesn't like Josh.

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