….and then down for the count.
Here’s what I have learned about Hattie in the 3 weeks that she’s been hanging out with us:
-She loves Rufus. OMG, the dude can do no wrong. What he sniffs, she sniffs. What he wants, she wants. What he loves, she loves. Such a fangirl.
-She loves all people…unless you are very still or crouching down menacingly. But once you approach her with open arms and a smile, she forgives you. This girl is all heart.
-She REALLY loves food. Hattie has only shown signs of food “aggression” once (and I use that term loosely). She was crated, enjoying her Kong stuffed with kibble when Rufus had the nerve to walk by to get to his toys. She lunged at the kennel door and let out a not-so- nice bark/growl. Before I even had time to correct her, she seemed to be shocked at her behavior and put her ears back,stepping away from her food until I gave her the ok to continue eating. It was a random moment but definitely something I will be keeping an eye on.
-She’s fast! This girl can run her butt off. There’s nothing like watching a dog run at full speed, ears flapping in the wind and tongue hanging out carelessly. It warms my heart to see her so carefree.
-She would fit in just about anywhere. This girl loves everyone and everything. Even when she gets spooked by a loud noise or object, she recovers quickly. Crated trained, house trained and affectionate without being too clingy, Hattie is pretty darn perfect. Especially for a young puppy. I really can’t say enough good things.
Oh and she’s freaking adorable. I mean…duh.
This may sound super bizarre, but I just don’t know how to handle a dog that actually loves people. And not just people, but strangers! It’s so foreign to me and frankly, I’m baffled.
Of course I’m being dramatic but as someone who has exclusively fostered timid and weary dogs, Hattie’s personality is unchartered territory for me.
Growing up, all of our dogs were super friendly with people. But as soon as I got into rescue, I realized this was not always the case.
And the truth is that rescues are full of dogs that love everyone they meet! But after fostering a timid pup and training her to come out of her shell, my rescue in Chicago saw this as my strength and we mutually agreed that this would kind of be my specialty. I’m not complaining at all – I absolutely love seeing dogs flourish and become more confident. The experience of training a dog to become comfortable in not-so-comfortable situations was so incredibly rewarding.
But Hattie? Hattie doesn’t need this kind of training. The girl is pretty darn easy going.
Of course, this doesn’t mean our little monkey is perfect. She certainly has some issues to conquer, but having her already socialized with new people is kind of a breath of fresh air.
So my goal? Keep Hattie social and confident. This is kind of a juggling act when I’m alone with both dogs, especially on walks and hikes. I worry about Ru’s weariness rubbing off on her unintentionally. Since she looks up to him so much, I get nervous about her reading his negative signals and starting to doubt herself. That would be a super bummer, guys.
As of right now, my solution is to only let her interact with dogs and people I know that Rufus also trusts. And when I have an extra set of arms (in the shape of a handsome boyfriend), I can give her more spontaneous interactions when we’re out and about. And who knows? Maybe her confidence and trusting nature will start to rub off on my troubled little man!
You know what’s awesome? Having your resident dog teach your new/foster dog the ropes without even having to ask. Hattie is constantly checking in with Rufus, watching his every reaction to see how she should be feeling about whatever may be going on at any given moment. With very little effort, our foster girl is already getting the hang of things. It’s like she’s been Rufus-fied!
Even though Rufus has some behavioral issues we continue to struggle with (such is life, right?), he also has some great qualities we are so thankful for. And those great qualities are rubbing off on our foster pup in a wonderful way:
-The art of chilling out.
No one knows how to chill out better than Rufus – he is the master of doing absolutely nothing at any given moment. When Hattie first came to us, she was very scatter-brained and a total busy body (she is a puppy after all). And now? When she sees us all hanging out and relaxing, she does the same. In fact she seem to be on a very similar nap schedule as Rufus, only awake a little bit longer here and there to make time for antler chewing. All of this is wonderful considering her age – she’s such a good pup.
-Recall and staying close by.
Hattie loves Rufus so much that she’d rather be close to him than anywhere else. Ever. This has been really great when working on her recall because I know that as long as Rufus is close by, she won’t be far behind. Of course we haven’t done off-leash work yet as we’ve only had her for a week, but she’s great on a training lead. I see wonderful off-leash romping in her future!
-Letting the little things go.
Oh the noises. If Hattie heard any kind of action coming from outside, she’d go into a barking fit. After just a few short days of seeing Rufus unfazed by these same mysterious noises, she’s already getting so much better at ignoring the ruckus that comes with living around a ton of children and families. In short, Yay Rufus!
If you’re thinking about getting a younger dog and happen to have an adult dog that rocks in so many ways, do it! The beauty of dog-dog relationships is that they teach each other so much without having to say a word. Of course it’s still important to train your new pup – nothing replaces basic obedience training. But! It certainly is nice to have a little help from our furry friends.