January 26, 2016 Tuesday– I was walking Ty and cleaning the melting snow in the yard. The wayward boxer came from the corner of the garage. Seeing me, he back pedaled and came face-to-face with Ty, with only the chain link fence and a few feet between them. My heart stopped because I knew this boxer could leap that fence effortlessly and I feared Ty might.
Ty’s ears went up, tail straight out and his nose working. No aggression, but no warm welcome either. I called Ty and the boxer raced off again. Ty raced in circles, avoiding me, which he is known to do. Only this time he was perplexed, agitated and uncertain. I finally cut him off and gathered up his leash. Yes, after all this time, I still keep his leash on and looped over his back while he is running around the yard. And was I ever glad I do! I got him back inside with no further incidents and made much of him with treats and praise.
Once warmer weather gets here, we are definitely working on his recall. The boxer had acted like he sort of wanted to play, at least there was no growling or bared teeth. However, he is wild and took off as soon as I spoke a word. Last I saw of him, he was racing into traffic again.
A happy face? Jan 28th
February 3, 2016 Wednesday– I’ve wondered lately if Ty is truly happy. Am I doing him a service? It should be obvious, but it isn’t. Part of this doubt is rising from my previous collies, who acted like happy collies. And the pictures I see online show clearly happy collies. It shows in their faces, their smiles, their posture. Everything about them tells everyone they are happy. I look at Ty and I don’t see that. I see a moment or two here and there, but it never seems to last. I see a dog who lives, by his choice, in a small section of a narrow kitchen.
Also, Ty never asks me for anything. Ever. Not to go outside. Not to be fed. Not to be played with. Not for a treat. Nothing. He just stays in the kitchen–his cave– or in the bedroom, unless I initiate a trip outside or a road trip. He does tend to follow me to bedroom if I’m doing an odd job. He still prefers not to go into the study and won’t enter the den at all. He does peek into the study on occasion.
Out in the yard, Feb 24th
Outside, his tail is up and he seems happy. He cruises the yard, doing his business and deciding when it’s time to come back inside.I just wait by the gate. Yes, he’s obedient–more or less. He listens for the most part and I’ve certainly seen worse behaved dogs.
If I call him while we’re outside in the fenced yard, he paces in wide circles, ears back and panting. He makes wide loops around me, always staying just a few inches out of reach. It’s not a typical game of keep-away that settled, happy dogs sometimes play. It’s a cross pull. You can see the emotional angst. He would like to come to me, but he just can’t make himself. Not yet. I don’t push him and give him time to figure it out. But is he happy?
At the dog park, for ten-twenty minutes he is excited and runs around. His tail wags like a banner as he selects the dogs he wants to play with and he ignores everyone else. Then he hits that emotional overload, shuts down, whines and gets that anxious look on his face and body language. Then he is only happy to follow me to the car where he lays panting on the short ride back home
He’s quiet inside and out. Still not a bark. When I try to hug him, he tolerates it, going still and looking away. He relaxes only once I back off a few feet. He doesn’t like me in his space, in his face, though he’s never aggressive, just anxious. Worried. Tense.
He’s learning to cruise closer to me in the yard, at least in the last couple of days. I have rewarded him with butt scratches, which he clearly finds pleasurable. He flies by and it’s sort of like touching the wind of a passing airplane.
He still won’t play with toys and chews through any bone I give him like it’s a lollipop. I think I’ve found the magic formula to keep his hot spot under control (yes, we’ve been battling one hot spot for a couple weeks now.) And of course, in try Ty fashion, controlling it is easy enough. Just one antihistamine tablet and a vitamin E dropped in with his kibble twice a day.
Everything with Ty is easy– and also so hard. He is an enigmatic dog, full of conflict and challenges. I wish he could talk. I’d love to sit down and ask him what he liked and what he wished we could change. Most of all, I want to know– is he really happy here and with me?