The Butcher promised me that walking Sonnyboy would be awesome. So we went to the park. It was not awesome. It didn’t totally suck, but I am developing some theories about the dog. I think he was, originally, owned by a dude who may have even hunted a little with him. He’s excellent with the Butcher and he’s excellent with the Butcher at rural parks. I took him to Cedar Hill, though, and it’s pretty clear that he doesn’t have much experience in situations where cars are coming by. He does okay with cars coming at him, but cars coming up behind him freaked him the fuck out.
Even though I’m still pretty sure he just views me like one more lovely woman at the vet’s office, who he doesn’t really have to listen to, I think that it’s good that, when he’s freaked or overly rambunctious, if you just stop, he calms down and looks to you for reassurance. And last night was so much better than the night before. But he’s still a huge tugger and I need him to heel when we walk in the mornings. It was frustrating because I suspected he knew how to do it and just wasn’t interested. But then when the Butcher was like “And isn’t it awesome how he walks right by your side?” Ugh, Sonnyboy and I almost had a fistfight.
He’s still anxious–which I expect will go on for a couple of weeks. The weekend is the best time for us to have gotten him, but he’ll do better once he gets a sense of what the weekday routine is like. And he tends to bark out his problems, but luckily, the “ignore the barking” advice works.
And he doesn’t know his name. Rufus means nothing to him. But now we like it, so he’s stuck with it.
So, I’m a little disheartened by just how much work he’s going to need. 1. Learn name. 2. Don’t fuck with the cats (though he’s in the middle of learning this lesson the hard way). 2. Don’t get up on the counters. 3. Don’t eat out of the trash. 4. Learn to walk with whoever walks him. 5. Stop trying to sniff my crotch when I’m pooping.
Which, granted, is a small list in the scheme of things. But 1. is the big one. I mean, I can tell he’d love to play outside, but, even in our own yard, we can’t let him off a leash to fetch a ball if we can’t be sure he’ll come back when he’s called.
But the biggest thing is that we’ve just got to figure out what motivates him. He doesn’t appear to be treat-driven. I know they gave him treats at the vet and, when you praise him (which he does like, I think), he checks your hands for treats. But when we give him treats, he’s like “Um, no. I’ll just leave this on the ground.” But the impression that I get is that, in part, it’s because he doesn’t know what the hell it is. Just like he clearly didn’t know he could walk on the wooden floors of our house, he seems to not have a lot of experience with things.
The Butcher and I suspect he was rescued from a situation where he was kept outside–hence the fosters’ overwhelming worry about him having to be in that kind of situation–and then fell into the foster situation where the fosters and the vet and her staff had specific treats and food that he associated with being good and awesome and associated with being in a happy, safe place. But the idea that there’s different food or different treats than that? It’s like he can’t quite understand it.
I don’t know. If you met him, you’d see what I meant. I think it must be kind of like what greyhound owners go through. He’s just walking around all the time like “What’s this? What’s this?” about a lot of stuff you’d expect a dog his age to have some experience with.
But another good thing about him is that he seems to learn stuff quickly. I mean, he and the cats have already reached a kind of detente. So, I think that’s just the part that makes me nervous. Not just the training him, but not knowing what kinds of situations are completely new to him.
But I feel bad for him. This must just be so hard, to have to learn all this shit. But he’s got a big heart and he wants to learn shit, so it will take some time, but we’ll get it done.