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Don't Yell At Me, Mommie!!!
I always have dogs ever since I was a kid. The dogs are family dogs. Not mine as in "I am the mommie or the Alpha," but dogs and my family are one pack and whoever was the bossiest human in my family was the Boss. Then, that would be my father, er, my brothers, er sometimes me. No wonder our dogs then were confused!! Since I adopted, Dallas, at seven months old in 2007, I was learning to be an Alpha with errors and misunderstandings along the way. Dallas, having been an Alaskan village dog, who had never left the island, had to learn how to get into a crate, ride an airplane, walk on a pavement, see bridges and street lights, wonder at statues and odd scultptures, awe at other large four-legged creatures besides bears, and adjust to a different place to sleep every time we move or travel.
Dogs are not kids???? There are a lot of persuasive convincing another non-doggy person have to do to influence this issue. The more a human interacts and bonds with 'them' creatures, the more one realizes how akin they are to us emotionally. They are children with the same nurturing needs.
Our first two years together was a challenge. Dallas, at seven months old had been well-behaved. Apart from the infrequent chewing of furniture at the fishing and hunting lodge where I cooked, she could hang around guests without begging, barking or making a nuisance of herself. Taking that into account, plus her 'following me like a dog,' I thought it would be an easy job to take her in after the lodge owner asked me if I want to adopt her.
It was thrilling for both of us to be together as family. My gypsy-like life would have some stability. I had always visualized a good dog to take care of, and she needed someone to give her lots of love and attention. Together, we can take on the future. After my summer stint at the island ended I decided to relocate to Washington state. Our short stay in Anchorage before the trip opened my dog's eyes to new wonders. She was discovering new places, sniffing new pee puddles, meeting more people.
I have not done the AlCan Highway. I have not done travelling in a car with a dog at the backseat. Both of us were embarking on a new adventure and it was exciting. From Anchorage to the "Top of the World," Canada to Washington state would take me four days. Through the rearview mirror, I became amazed at how she reacted to a different world. She marvelled at bridges and lights. She was contantly alert taking in every sight. She got hysterical over the new animals on the road. The bisons, the mountain goats, the caribous. I had to roll up the window so she could not jump out for a closer look. It was a longggg...exhausting four day trip. All these days, there was never a moment of difficulty with her getting out of or into the car.
After we get somewhat settled in Washington state, we planned to continue our adventure of discovery. There were so many places to go to, there were dog parks in every town. We would decide which ones were the best. Of course, best for her most of all. We were getting comfortable with our schedule. Two or three times romping around each day at different parks. It was our routine. I also learned that Dallas wanted to see 'the other side of the fence.' So she would venture further. It was getting more difficult to tell her it's time to go home and get in the car. A treat to lure her? She is the only labrador retriever that I know of who will pass food for awhile to get on with what she was doing. It became a game of catch-me-if-you-can. I became frustrated that this well-behaved dog was turning out to be stubborn and disobedient. I would yell at her to get into the car. Sometimes she would hop in in the car at one yell, and sometimes she would take her time to jump into the car after my third yell. It was developing into a habit of me yelling at her, and I just hated yelling. Then, one day after a glorious time in the dog park (her point of view), I told her to get into the car and she would not. I was not having a grand time myself and so I screamed at the top of my voice. She sat next to the car door, and looked up at me and sputtered protestations of "you don't have to scream at me, mommie." She went on that "talk" of hers for several minutes. I was so mortified at my own behavior and here was a dog "talking" to me that I was being nasty. That moment defined our conciliatory relationship. Mommie can talk, not scream because it won't do any good. So, we made a note of this moment, I won't scream anymore, if she could just obey by getting into the car. From then on, after every walk, I would open the car door and tell her to get in. It won't happen quickly, but she would get in, without me raising my voice.
Nowadays, short trips or long trips, Dallas has become a fixture at the backseat sitting gracefully viewing at the world with wonder, curiosity and content that mommie and her are getting along fine.