Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Tuesday: Dog days

Our doggie has been sick since Sunday night. Honestly we thought something outside had scared her but when you think about it, there aren't a lot of things in a little country neighborhood like ours that will truly scare an 85lb German Shepherd Dog.

So while it was fun to briefly consider the woods around our house to be riddled with were-creatures of various sorts that turned out to not be the case. I’m sure my friend Jenn will be relieved. :)

Storm is better now. Pure bred dogs, I read before we got her, often have more complicated dietary needs than mixed breeds. While their behavior can be more predictable, other things that are less fun are also quite predictable. Example: We bought her a bison hoof to chew on the other night. Supposed to be really high quality stuff, not dangerous. But she had never had one of these before.

Turns out it must've messed the girl up pretty good. She moped around from Sunday night through last night, lay in odd places, and in the evenings went to far corners of the house to hide. Very strange behavior. Last night/this morning (it all runs together) I took her out for some late night 1am and 3am potty breaks. Wow. Talk about some stinkin. And not pretty to look at either.

I felt bad for her.

Another reason that we thought she was scared is because she wouldn't come back up our front porch steps. Now our steps are "open" meaning you can reach under the steps and back under the dark recesses of the porch. Since we live in the country, some critters like possums and raccoons have been known to hole up in there from time to time. Both of those little woodland creatures can really mess up or even kill a dog of Storms size.

Turns out though there were no demonic forces or mutated animals plotting our demise and the demise of mankind under our porch. What I now think was going on, and the reason she wouldn’t come up the steps, is that Storm's stomach was cramping/hurting so bad she didn't want to make the stretch/quick jump up them. So went took the front gate route and came/went through the garage.

But all this behavior is easy to misread when you're puppy 1) isn't acting like you think they should, B) you've convinced yourself something else is going on because 6) you're *sure* there is nothing really wrong.

This is why it's important as owners that we get to know our dog’s personality and become a student of reading their body language.

Clearly I make mistakes at it like I did this time. Storm "looked" scared to me. When we were out in the yard *talking* about it, just me and her, when she wouldn't meet my eyes, or listen to my voice, I was certain she was so upset and afraid that she could no longer obey. Which would be pretty darn scared.

What I didn't realize is that even though I was rationalizing it that way, my body language said another thing. I was tense. My voice at times demanding that she come inside. And I was losing my patience. Because I was convinced I was right. Yep doing one of those dumb things men are known for doing .. ignoring the facts cause you’re getting ticked off. I admit it … I screw it *all* from time to time.

What was really going on was this … by not looking at me, yawning, turning her head, lying down, walking away from me, she was trying to *calm me down*. My body language and attitude was causing part of her behavior.

I KNOW all that already and I'm convinced of the truth of it all. It’s how dogs communicate with us. I knew those signals but I misread them based on what I *thought* I knew about the situation, and I ended up making them into something that they weren't. Dumb, dumb, and dumb.

In the end, it’s another doggie lesson learned. Storm is acting much better today. And through all this, even though it wasn't a huge deal, I learned more about her and how to better communicate with her next time.

1 comment:

Jennifer said...

poor Stormie.... and I get the same look in my eye when I see freaky were creatures in my kitchen.