Saturday, January 22, 2011

"I'm NOT a babysitter."

Ferguson had a semi-rough day today at daycare.  He was good and fine for the first while, doing his usual following me with his eyes, but keeping to himself, getting occasional drinks and hanging around with the other low key dogs in the low key dog section.  Then came Apollo, the 6 month old Great Dane puppy.  Apollo was first put in with the more active playful dogs, where he found a few others to satisfy his boisterous, silly, un-socialized play.  Then the time of day came when the mellow dog pen is moved to the active dog pen.  Usually, this is not much of a problem, as the active dogs tend to stick with the active dogs.  However, today we had to pull most of the active dogs, as they were there for boarding and had been for days, so Apollo decides to stick like glue to the dog closest to his size....guess who he picked?

He looked a lot like this.  Same expression, too. 

Ferguson was not at all happy about this.  He allowed himself to be sniffed, but did NOT like being followed, shoved, barked at, or beckoned to be played with, especially with mouthing.  Ferguson showed his teeth and growled a few times, quickly corrected by either me or a staff member, to which he would submissively stop and try to move away to the other side of the pen....but Apollo did not dwindle his focus.  We tried to sway Apollo to no avail (he didn't even understand where the water squirting was coming from, let alone that it was a correction) and before long, Ferguson had had enough and lunged a foot or two towards him, teeth barred, and barked a few times, looking fairly intimidating.  STILL, the puppy was not swayed and thought it was a game. I decided I'd save Ferguson his sanity, skin, and ability to be allowed in the pen at all by removing him  and having him be kenneled for a few hours until the pens were separate again.  As soon as Ferguson was gone, Apollo simply selected a new victim, and the cycle continued for the rest of the day of dogs barking and growling and snapping at him, the puppy failing on all levels of picking up dog social cues that meant, "LEAVE ME ALONE."  When he didn't have his way, Apollo would simply bark at his intended victim...I mean...playmate...demanding they acknowledge him.  It was quite a frustrating day.

I think my co-worker was pretty startled by Ferguson's actions, but I was not, especially when it kept happening with different dogs.  She still seemed a little wary of him when I brought him back in the pen after the Dane was removed, but Ferguson did just fine, as expected (most dogs just leave him be after sniffing, or understand subtle body language cues that say he's not interested in playing).  Let's just hope the Dane does not come back, and that Fergus's actions remain excluded incidents.

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