I guess dogs will be dogs. When they are bad, are they really bad, or just operating on their instincts? Sometimes it’s hard to be upset when they seem to think they’ve done something perhaps beyond acceptable, and possibly even treat-worthy. Also, my Aussies are so cute I can never stay mad at them. I cannot resist the wiggle. I believe I’m what you can simply call a sucker, push-over, or puppy-whipped.
First, there is theft. Am I saying it’s natural for dogs to want to steal? Of course not- at least not in that sense- but they may get hungry from time to time, and well… let me go back to the beginning of this story.
The little girl next door was having a back yard birthday party and we had been invited, along with Dylan (this was the summer before we adopted MJ). Dylan just loves children. After all, children love pretty, fluffy doggies, so not only are they active
targets, but they also are prone to fawn all over Dylan. He was almost more the center of attention than the birthday girl at this party. “Where’s Dylan? Come here Dylan. I want to play with Dylan. Can Dylan play on a swing?” could be heard in little voices all over the yard, and even on their back enclosed patio (I have no idea how he got in there). Maybe he was caught up in the excitement, or maybe all the activity had simply left him famished, but as I was sitting in a lawn chair (having a surprisingly pleasant conversation with a couple who had discovered I was the teacher in whom’s class their son had just scraped by with a D), the half a hot dog I had been holding in my hand was gone, and a reddish furry flurry had just made a pass-by. Yes, I had fallen victim to a run-by hotdog snatch by my own lousy dog! I wanted to be angry, but another part of me just wanted a slow motion instant replay because I was impressed that he had managed to steal the wiener without actually touching me at all. Mad skills, right?
Second, we have assault and battery.
A few months later, the little girl next door had a girl scout sleepover. Most of these girls had been at the birthday party and remembered Dylan. Now, what I write next is the story as told by my husband because I regret not being a witness to this one.
It was early on a Sunday morning, not even light for long yet. Kids never sleep at sleepovers and the scouts were already awake and playing outside next door. Dylan, being a dog of routine and having a tiny bladder, needed to go outside. Once the handsome dog’s presence was discovered, little girls were begging, “Oh, please let Dylan come play with us!” In that moment, Robert was torn, knowing it was innocent enough, but not sure of the outcome. He prefaced the play time with a warning: “Remember that you can’t run. Dylan WILL chase you, so just stay calm.”
“We promise!” declared those little liars. As soon as Dylan was free from the leash, he harmlessly jogged, perhaps a bit quickly and excitedly for a jog, over for play time, and every one of those little girls ran in different directions, screaming as they went. I mentioned in the past Dylan’s breed’s skill set and instincts are to herd, right? Imagine being a herding dog- it’s in your blood- and all the little “livestock” is running free in chaos. Yep, Dylan ran literal circles around them to bring them in together, knocking some down and using the nipping technique as he went. Robert described it as pandemonium, and as he retold the story, I could see his mind wandering back to the fateful scene, as if he now suffered from PTSD. “One little girl fell down and cried out, ‘I’ve just been bitten by a dog.'”
No worries. Everyone was fine. No blood had been spilled, and we learned that Dylan enjoys herding girl scouts, even if they do not have any cookies for him (he loves cookies!).
The third issue is conspiracy.
MJ tends to be shy in social settings, so we weren’t sure how she would take to the dog park. At first she stuck as close to her big brother as possible (she literally wants to be touching him when at all possible), just observing the other dogs. Then she strayed from her brother’s protection and headed straight towards some largish mutts, challenging them. This was all calculated as I could clearly see her making sure she knew exactly where her brother was first. Once the other dogs began to chase her, she ran past her brother, whose attention was now piqued, and under a picnic bench she was still small enough to fit under, but the mutts were not. Obviously that slowed them down, and gave Dylan enough time to come to MJ’s defense. She is smart and manipulative. Since almost every other dog Dylan comes into contact with recognizes him as the alpha, the mutts backed off and MJ came out from hiding, and repeated a similar process a few more times.
The fourth crime is accessory to murder.
Ok, so not really murder, but a good crime of passion anyway, or maybe a bit more a case of domestic violence. I’ve mentioned a few times how much Dylan loves his plush green squeaky spider we named Green. Seriously, this dog has separation anxiety if he cannot find Green. When the vacuum runs, Dylan needs Green; when the blender liquifies our smoothies, Dylan needs Green; when it’s bedtime, Dylan needs Green; for any uncertain situation, Green is there, in Dylan’s mouth, or laying close by. Dylan and MJ play tug with Green sometimes, and now Green is missing a few appendages. Sometimes Daddy and Dylan play tug with Green, and he’s required a few surgeries. Dylan’s love of Green makes what I witnessed one day seem impossible. Every time I see Dylan with Green, the song, “Happy Together” plays in my head, so why would I find Dylan holding Green down between his paws as he ripped stuffing out of Green’s neck by use of his teeth? It was horrible, and I was almost too late to stop it. At the last possible second, as I called out to Dylan from across the room, and ran in what seemed like bad slow motion in a B movie, he stopped, looked up at me and whimpered. “Mommy! I’m so sorry. I don’t know what came over me, but can you save my friend?” No, I didn’t actually hear him say that aloud (I’m not really crazy), but it was clear in his eyes.
With a needle and thread that sort of matched the correct shade of Green, I went to work on saving Green, forcing as much stuffing as I could back into the oozing wound. Dylan paced like an expecting father in the waiting room in those old shows and movies when men weren’t allowed in the room during childbirth. He whimpered and cried out. He even came and tried to pry Green from my hands a few times. Finally, Green was repaired and the two old friends were reunited.
I’d like to tell you that Green and Dylan have lived happily ever after, and they sort of have, except we are now on the fourth Green.
Still, I don’t always understand why my dogs do what they do, but I know by their happy faces that their intentions are never to do harm. They may just get carried away in the moment. You cannot look an Aussie is the face and see anything but joy and love, unless it’s guilt brought on by some misunderstanding.