Articles Home About the Dr. Reference Make an Appointment Furry  Friends Pet Store
Peace of mind... for pets and their people.
A vet and his dog cope with puppies
My first round of puppy classes came to a close last week, and later that same Sunday I began to reflect on one of the primary events of the day. It was actually a series of events, or rather a progression or flow of behavior, and it was on the part of my dog Chase. Chase started the day by sleeping in with me, he in his open crate across from my bed. Looking back on it, I'm not sure whether he even had breakfast. [That may be important to know later.] He was out with me that Sunday a week ago in the warmth of what had to have been the first real spring day of the year. We sat outside for a while in the late morning soaking in the soothing rays of the sun. And then it was time to head off to class. I decided to bring Chase with me so that the puppies could experience some controlled exposures to a significantly bigger dog. During the 1st class of the day, Chase was seated next to Bruin. Bruin, a sweet and friendly mostly black lab pup of four months, seemed to be flirting with Chase. She was lying on her back, with her ears flopped to the floor. Chase was lying with his back legs and chest square on the ground and his front legs slightly stretched out with his paws resting gently upon the flopped to the ground ears of Bruin's head. They were both very relaxed and comfortable in their new association. And looking back on it, she was the first pup he met that morning, in the parking lot outside the hospital. They had a relaxed and friendly greeting, sniffing nose to nose first, and then they peacefully separated. It's interesting how dogs, much like people, will seek the social comfort of another animal that they have already met when grouped with a bunch of strangers. The second dog Chase met was Dottie, also in the parking lot before class. Dottie, an adorable Dalmatian, is a story all onto her own. She entered the first class terrified. The vets in the hospital asked how I was going to handle her, fearing that continual exposures would make her worse. Dottie sat up on the bench seat leaning against and sometimes behind her owner. I called this owner after the first class and recommended she bring Dottie to the next class about 10-15 minutes early. By simply allowing her to get comfortable and more relaxed in the new environment, the level of stress faced by this overly timid puppy was dramatically reduced. Each pup entering the hospital was then introduced to her, which was a whole lot less stressful than being brought into a room filled with excited, playful puppies. Dottie started as a closed up bud and over the four weeks she simply blossomed. When Chase walked into this first of four classes that Sunday he saw Sarge, a Bulldog pup who had been named most appropriately. He was the most dominant member in the class(...of pups... you mustn't forget). For you see Chase was about 1 and 1/2 times bigger than any of these creatures, though in many ways still a puppy himself at only nine months. But he is a tall and handsome young man (probably comparable to a 14 or 15 year old boy). Sarge who often growled in an assertion of dominance around the other pups appeared interested in and admiring of Chase, the larger, stronger Ridgeback, as though he would follow him faithfully into any battle. At the second class, Chase just wanted to play and for the most part I kept him loosely restrained. This gave him an opportunity to struggle against the line tied to a hook on the wall. And so he began demanding my usual undivided attention, which I gave into occasionally during that class. The third class, outdoors, gave him the opportunity to run free which he did with tremendous pent up energy from the two previous classes where he was kept under control when he would rather not have been. At the fourth and final class of the evening, he went nose to nose right away with one of the pups, Bailey, who he had met a few days before. He clearly remembered and liked her, and she him. But then when forced to endure the sniffings and nudging of some of the other pups he grew grumpy, giving out low growls of annoyance. I corrected him sharply a few times, not knowing what had produced this sudden change in attitude. It occurred to me later that evening that Chase had missed his dinner. This day of classes which was an unusually long and event-filled day for an everyday lounge-around-the-house dog can build quite an appetite, I'm sure. Not being given a regular meal on such a day was enough to make him behave out of sorts. And if he did, in fact, miss his breakfast as well, then Chase, I apologize that much more strongly. I took your easygoing adaptive nature for granted and unwittingly pushed you a little too far. But even so, now, despite, and because of, the events of the day, I know you better, and appreciate you more.