Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Mr. Mellow

"He's so mellow."

Never over the last six years would I imagine that someone would say that about Chopper.  Chopper who came to me six years ago and tried to chase runners, every dog, barked at every truck while on a walk.  Chopper who still will bark at imaginary threats outside when we are in the house.  And Chopper who until six months ago hated garbage trucks so much that garbage day was an anxiety inducing event at our house.  But now Chopper is one of the best walkers in our neighborhood. He doesn't pull on the leash, not even to chase a squirrel.  He ignores (most) crazy dogs that are barking at him.  He sniffs politely.  And thanks to a few sessions with a trainer and a clicker, and lots of practice on my part, garbage day is no longer the low point of my week. 

But today while we were talking with a neighbor - whose two year old lab can pull her across streets and who was going this way and that while Chopper just stood next to me patiently said to me "He's so mellow," I was shocked.  After I picked my jaw up off the ground and told her he was a "faker," I went on to explain all of the non-mellow things he did.  As we walked away I thought - well actually he is pretty mellow compared to how he was and maybe I should give him, and me for that matter,  some credit.  I put in the hours of training this dog, displayed patience I reserve for no one else in my life, and gave him a million and one second chances. I drove him in LA traffic to training sessions for agility, obedience, sniffing, herding - you name it he did it - all in an effort to forge a human/dog bond that would get him to listen and trust me. I read a stack of books about dog behavior.  I took him to a vet behaviorist and I implemented her plan. So the next time someone pays us a complement, instead of calling him a "faker,"  I will say "thank you, it was a lot of work."

I need to learn to take a complement about Chopper.  This dog who is actually pretty mellow most of the time (except when he's not, as a friend pointed out).