The Visitors.

A few weeks ago I had a meeting planned here, with two people who Ray had never met before, and was trying to work out how best to handle this with both Ray’s and their interests in mind.

They duly arrived and were greeted by a barking Ray who I muzzled and quickly pulled away from the front door before inviting them in. I asked whether either of them had any concerns whatsoever about dogs, noting that Ray would probably sense it straight away (a story for another time!) and it would really help if I knew in advance what to expect from him. The woman explained that she had a bad experience with a dog a long time ago but did not expect an issue with Ray.

I had moved Ray’s circular bed to the side of my chair and he seemed very happy to lay there while we chatted, and of course he was getting treats periodically. The woman asked if she could stroke him so I walked him to within a few feet of her and asked him to touch (pointing to her knee) after which he looked up at me for his treat. I have done this routine a number of times with Ray, simply to get him used to being really close to somebody and showing him that not only does no harm come to him, but people often mean treats (ref The Lululemon Touch – Nov 24). I then gave her a treat to give him and she was able to stroke him.

Ray was taken back to his bed and lay there as before while we carried on with our conversation. I really don’t know how much time elapsed but I was suddenly aware that Ray was not on his bed. As fast as that became obvious, I saw him on the floor in front of the woman!

Ray has done this before. He sees himself as protector and therefore quietly positions himself strategically such that if anything untoward happens, he can intervene. Unfortunately, he misreads body language with rather disturbing results so my immediate thought was to move him back to his bed and hope that the woman did not move in the interim. With a certain amount of resistance, Ray returned to his bed and all was well. Of course wearing his muzzle would prevent any biting or nipping however, Ray can still produce an unpleasant experience by simply lunging and barking. I have been on the “receiving end” of that action a number of times and it is quite “attention getting”!

Upon reflection, I am now wondering whether he was positioning himself just in case something happened, or whether he was simply hanging out where the last treat came from! Of course we can never know with any certainty but as vigilant as Ray is when it comes to protecting us, I must clearly be equally vigilant.

It is so easy, having lived with Ray through his troubled times, to always err on the side of caution which of course is necessary however, I must always remember to give credit where it is due. Regardless of Ray’s motives, whatever they may have been, he behaved admirably and should be acknowledged accordingly. Great job buddy!

8 thoughts on “The Visitors.

  1. My Kali lunges at other dogs. Like you with Ray I’m committed to helping her past this anxiety using certain techniques and lots of dedication. So credit and Kudos to Ray and to you for your commitment to helping him grow. Our commitment is a small price for the unconditional love and companionship they give us, isn’t it.

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    • Totally agree with you. Working with Ray (probably like Kali) has had its ups and downs; its frustrations and even some traumatic moments. That is simply a result of his unfortunate history however, working with him is such an education and creates such a bond that the reward is truly priceless. Would I do it again? Yes, and without hesitation!

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  2. My last dog, an Akita, would do what Ray does. Get near the new person, not me. She never did anything I considered dangerous. I think she just wanted to be near them to see what they would do. She already knew me. Whether it was for protection or last treat dispersal, I’m sure you’ll learn soon how he will react. Your relationship is still a bit new.

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    • Thx Schmoodly Noodly buddy. I’m doing my best but it can be quite difficult trusting people. By the way, isn’t “no lunging” not taking a step in any direction? Woof! Ray 🙂


  3. Ray has, unfortunately, already demonstrated that he is prepared to intervene aggressively as he sees fit. “Playing safe” is therefore in both in his interests, and in those of anybody close enough to be potentially perceived as a threat. Having said that ………. he has come a long way and will no doubt get even better with time, TLC and patience! 🙂

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  4. I suppose we never know what’s going through our dogs’ minds! When I got Phoebe she had very similar issues and she would act similarly when females came and had given her treats and soothed her (men were a different story however – she was terrified of them!). With her, I started to realise that it was her way of wanting to be closer to the new human she thought she might like, but could also be in a place to watch me and my reactions carefully. I learned to ignore her and only treat when she specifically looked for attention from the visitor. She soon relaxed with visitors consistently, and now has no issues with anyone popping by. That said though, I totally agree with your “rather safe than sorry” approach – until you’re both 100% comfy with guests this is probably the best thing to do!

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