Sunday, May 22, 2016

Good Boy

Our Lloydey is a really great dog.

He is such a good member of our family and so eager to please.  He loves being a part of our pack, and the larger our pack gets, he happier he seems to be about it.

He and Tracey are not best friends, but she loves to play with him, and he handles her amazingly well.  Anytime she's playing with him, I try to be right there to remind her to be gentle with Lloydey... but there are inevitably moments when she interacts with him without my watchful eye, and Lloyd is such a wonderful dog for her two-year-old nature.  He lets her be a, sometimes rough two-year-old... and when he's had enough, he walks away.  Plain and simple.  Today I walked into her room, and she was the doctor examining Lloyd's eyes... and by examining, I mean, poor Lloydey, several times, was poked in the eye before I was able to see what was happening and let Tracey know that that is not how we touch Lloydey and we never poke anyone's eye.

We used to say that we had a dog that never barks... because he never did.  He would bark when someone knocked on our door and over nothing else.  He would not bark to be let out to use the restroom, he would not bark at other dogs, he would not bark at us when we got home from work, he would not bark to be let in the house, and he would even not bark when something hurt him, like a thorn in his foot.  We felt very fortunate because we didn't want a dog who constantly barked just to hear himself talk... but he barked when the situation warranted it.  Now, Lloyd barks a little more.

We can't say that he doesn't bark, because now he does, at select things -- still when he thinks the situation warrants barking.

He still barks like crazy when someone knocks at our door... when he seems someone in our yard... and sometimes just when a big truck drives by our house.

But, he still rarely gets in verbal altercations with other dogs, even when other dogs are barking at him.  It happens once in blue moon that Lloyd will bark back, but it is very rare, and I never really knew what the deciding factor was as to weather Lloyd would respond to a barking dog or not... until recently.
Our backyard has a fence around it... and the fence divides property between four neighboring houses, two of which have dogs.  So Lloyd and neighbors dogs can literally have conversations, if they so choose, on either side of a flimsy domestic fence.

One of our neighbors has three dogs, and those three do their fair share of barking throughout the day.  Most of the time... I'd say over 99% of the time, Lloyd lets them do their barking and he does not so much as bat an eye toward that side of the yard.  He lets them do their barking, and he is content with us in the house or the yard.  The fence is solid so the dogs cannot stick noses or claws, or even see each other through the fence, and Lloyd almost exclusively ignores the barking dogs next door.

A few weeks ago, I was outside with Tracey, and we were outside for probably 45 minutes or so during which time the neighboring dogs were sporadically barking at us through the fence.  Based on the barks, they sounded like two small yippy dogs, and one big fierce dog.  We all pretty much ignored the dogs the whole time we were out there.  I think I might have said a few times, "Knock it off guys, you're okay," to the dogs in the vain hope that it would get them to stop barking at us, playing in our own yard.

Then, after playing outside for more than 30 minutes, all of a sudden, Lloyd started jumping up on our side of the fence with his VERY ferocious bark, with the hair standing up on the back of his neck directly across from the big dog of the neighbors.  It literally sounded like a dog fight -- and who knows, maybe it would have been had the fence not been there.

Not wanting our dog to bother anyone by barking, and not wanting Lloyd involved in an altercation with any dog -- through a fence or not, I immediately called Lloyd off and decided we all needed a little space from the neighbor's dogs, and we went inside.  It was only later that I realized what I think set Lloyd off.

For 30 minutes these dogs had been barking at us through the fence and Lloyd had completely ignored them.  So what caused him to suddenly respond and engage them?

Well, after 30 minutes of entertainment in our yard with balls and her wagon and her tricycle, the sound of the little yippy yappy dog through the fence was too much for Tracey, and she began to wander over to that side of our yard and talk to the little dog.  Even though she couldn't see the little dog (or the big angry dog) through the fence, our little animal-loving Tracey has never in her life had reason to fear a dog... and so she fears no dog, regardless of how ferocious-sounding their bark (which is both a blessing and a curse).

It took me a few hours to piece it together... but only when Tracey got near that fence with the barking dogs did Lloyd lunge his body at that fence and bark and growl and, I presume, let those dogs know, in no uncertain terms, that this little girl who was talking to them was not alone, and he was over here... so back off.

I had been trying to get Tracey to come away from the fence because it wasn't a place to play, but her sweet two-year-old self could not understand why she couldn't see the dog on the other side... and her sweet animal-loving two-year-old self could not begin to imagine why any dog on the other side of the fence wouldn't love to meet her.  When Lloyd and the neighboring dog engaged each other, it helped me get her away from the fence... and then inside.

I didn't fully realize it at the time, but what a wonderful dog we have.

I almost still feel like I can say, "He really doesn't bark... unless there is a reason," because there was a definitely a reason to bark and growl at that other dog and Lloyd knows it and now I know it -- Tracey was getting too close to this situation.

A hero, a protector does not walk around every day looking for a fight... he works to keep the peace.  But when a fight is warranted... when an innocent little girl who cannot imagine a world where any dog would not be thrilled to meet her and let her use her toy stethoscope to listen to his heart beat (as Lloyd allows her to do) approaches a dog not quite so nice... that is when a hero steps up.  Lloyd succeeded in turning the attention of all neighboring dogs to him, at a different part of the fence than where Tracey was standing, and let everyone know that she was not alone on our side.

We have such a good boy.


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