Waiting her out

Downtown mall walk
Sniffing around Court Square.

Last Wednesday, Pyrrha and I took a long walk downtown–to visit Guion at work, and just to get out and stretch our legs for a few hours. I love these long, quiet walks with her. I feel like my mind is able to unwind after a day at work. I love watching her gain confidence on our walks, with her mouth hanging open and her tail swishing back and forth.

On our way downtown, we encountered a woman and her gorgeous malamute/shepherd mix. He had the coloring and build of a light sable wolf, although he was about Pyrrha’s height. As they approached, Pyrrha tucked her tail and bared her teeth at the dog. I started to apologize to the woman, but she said, “He used to do that all the time, too,” pointing to her handsome dog. I was surprised. He looked so calm and friendly.

We started talking, and it turned out that she’d adopted Chino about three months ago and he’d made great progress since then. I loosened Pyrrha’s leash as I talked to the woman. We discussed rescuing, our shy dogs, and the progress they gradually make. Throughout this conversation, Chino was placid and unconcerned by Pyrrha’s toothy display–and, as I was relieved to note, his human seemed to be equally nonplussed.

Downtown mall walk
Nearing the downtown mall.

Perhaps two minutes passed, and suddenly Pyrrha’s tail unwound; her hackles released; and she threw down a goofy play-bow in front of Chino. He responded in kind, and then the two were happily romping along the sidewalk (while we were trying to keep them from darting into the road). She even started kissing his ears. My dog, in a state of utter fear just a minute ago, was now smitten with this stud of a canine. We had to actually drag them apart, so we could continue on our merry way.

As I walked away, I turned to Chino’s human and said, “Thank you for waiting her out. That means a lot to me!”

I explained. Most dog owners, when they see Pyrrha’s lips curled back in fear and those bared teeth, gasp and run in the opposite direction, trailing their dogs behind them. I don’t blame them. A German shepherd in that posture is a fearful sight to behold. Because of this, however, Pyrrha rarely gets to move beyond that threshold of fear into that state of initiating play. Most people aren’t willing to wait it out.

But Chino’s lady was–and I was so grateful to her for that. Pyrrha needs all the positive dog-on-dog interactions she can get. They are hard to come by. I hope we’ll continue to run into Chino and his person, so my girl continues to learn that there isn’t anything to be afraid of after all.

Have you ever been grateful for someone–even a stranger–who understood your dog’s special needs?

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7 thoughts on “Waiting her out

  1. Wonderful that you met someone who understood. And that you had such a good example of what success can look like.

    I’m most thankful to the stranger who caught my dog Shadow when I dropped her leash the very first day I had her. We had not yet bonded. She was so nose driven. I knew if I chased her she’d run faster but if I ran away she wouldn’t follow.

    Another dog walker 2 blocks away figured out what was going on. She put her door inside, came back out and crouched down with her arms open to coax Shadow to her. If she hadn’t come along, I don’t know how I would have ever gotten Shadow back.

    Strangers with dogs who help us are angels on earth. 🙂

  2. We had a friend come and stay with us about a month ago, a dyed in the wool Shepherd guy who trained guide dogs for about sixteen years. We’ve been Facebook friends for several years and I have been smitten with his German Shepherd from the get go. I was a little intimidated meeting him, and as luck would have it, he arrived before my husband got home from work. Kuster is still a puppy, but he is in need of learning manners and Morgan, well….she puts the nuts in fruitcake. I love her, but sometimes I wonder if she’s a little touched in the head! lol Anyway, I brought both of them out on leashes to meet him and his dog and he totally understood them! He gave us a lot of good advice about handling both of them and I’ve seen both of them doing a lot better in the last month. For the two and a half days they were here, Morgan barked at him every time he walked in the room, but then a few minutes later, she was in love with him again. He was feeding her on the sly to gain her adoration, and he just kind of chuckled when they had their moments of craziness. It made me feel a lot better that he “got” them both, and he told me a lot of stories about dogs that were worse than mine! 😛 He made me feel more comfortable with both of them.

  3. I am so thankful for your encounter with Chino! I do hope that you continue to see Chino and his person, because they seem like a great pair to know.

    Elka has a dog that we counter in the park once in awhile, an Irish Setter mix (I think) named Murphy, who is a shy and placid shelter dog. Because Murphy himself is so mellow and nonconfrontational, Elka has a rare opportunity to deal with a dog on her own terms, without him getting in her face, and they’ve played together, to the surprise of Murphy’s person, because apparently he doesn’t play with any dogs!

  4. It’s really great that Chino’s human understood and was calm and collected about it. But, even more impressive, is the fact that Chino didn’t push the encounter with Pyrrha! Seriously, I’m so amazed at how well dogs understand each other. Elli has been the Chino before to a scaredy border collie x named Nova. Nova was all teeth and hackles and the occasional correction, Elli turned her face, froze to indicate discomfort several times over the course of two days and Nova eventually learned to love Elli.

  5. I always appreciate when people read Maggie and Duke’s body language and don’t try to to pet them. Last week at Petco the rep from Blue realized how shy Duke was and completely ignored him while we were talking. Maggie relaxed enough to sniff a few people and Duke had time to get used to new people without the stress of them getting too close.

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