In 2013 Ray lunged at, and grabbed, our neighbor’s arm. It was a very bad misreading of body language (The full story is in his book – see right side of screen).
Since then we have continually put him into situations that are deemed “safe”, but which involved people at close quarters. There have been occasions when I have asked somebody to step back a little but, in general it has all worked out very well and Ray seems to be a lot more trusting of people.
As we came back from our walk yesterday, another neighbor came over to chat and I noticed that he was gesticulating quite actively. I also noticed that Ray was in his “down” position but watching every move. I kept glancing at Ray in order to catch any early signs of an imminent reaction on his part, but he seemed quite content to just stay where he was and watch. I gave him a “Good boy buddy” and a treat!
As the conversation continued, the neighbor was unintentionally moving closer to Ray while still waving his arms around as he talked! I was now getting a little more concerned and was looking at Ray more than I was the neighbor, but he just stayed on the ground watching every move. “Good boy buddy. Have another treat”!
The neighbor had no idea of what was going on in my mind, and neither of us could know with any certainty what was going on in Ray’s mind, but the gap between the two of them kept reducing. The neighbor was very relaxed and chatting away, and Ray was still in his down position and not seemingly over concerned, but I was getting quite stressed out!
I eventually asked the neighbor to take a few steps back and away from Ray, which he quite happily did, and Ray stayed relaxed in his “down” position. Having witnessed his arm grabbing incident a few years ago, will I ever trust him completely? No.
As wonderful a family member as he is, and despite the huge progress that he has made over the last 3 years, he is still a dog with the ability to rationalize circumstances and react accordingly. He is also, much like us, capable of making mistakes!
How I wish some other dog owners would also understand that their furry friend may be a well balanced and well trained canine, but he/she IS a canine and has certain attributes that may surface when least expected. Because we cannot totally control our surroundings, there will always be that possibility of circumstances which could result in an issue. Can I offer a 100% guarantee that Ray will never lunge and grab again? Of course not, simply because I cannot control 100% of his surroundings 100% of the time. From my perspective, to answer with anything other than “No” would be totally delusional.
I am 95% (a purely speculative number) certain that I can predict and control Ray’s behavior in various circumstances, but do I have the right to gamble on somebody else’s health by ignoring the 5% that I cannot predict and control? I don’t think so!
Due diligence at all times. Isn’t that what taking responsibility for a dog entails?