Selective amnesia with male house guests

Pyr and Rosa
Pyrrha and my friend Rose.

Whether she likes it or not, Pyrrha is becoming a veritable veteran of hospitality. We’ve had a glut of house guests this fall (almost every weekend!) and Pyrrha has just learned to roll with it. This past weekend, our good friends Kemp and Rose came to stay with us. Thankfully, like most of our friends, they are great “dog people” and they quickly won her over.

She’s still not exactly Miss Casual when new people show up, but Pyrrha has made great strides in warming up and gaining confidence around strangers who stick around for a few nights.

One weird thing: She seems to have something of a short-term memory with overnight guests, especially if they’re men. After an hour, she will have warmed up to a new man and be willing to lick his feet, initiate play with him, etc. But the next morning, when he comes out of the bedroom, she acts like she’s never seen him before and runs away from him. (She’s occasionally done this with female house guests, too, but it’s a more common behavior with men.)

Any idea what this could mean? Does Pyrrha have a mild form of selective amnesia?

I know that she’s more scared of men in general, but I’m not entirely sure how to explain why she’d be scared of a man she was buddies with the night before. I guess it’s all about warming up gradually over time? She’s still, after all, working on her trust and confidence around Guion, and he’s been here with her from Day One.

Oh, well. Our sweet, weird dog.

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5 thoughts on “Selective amnesia with male house guests

  1. When we went on vacation with out friends in May, every morning, Elka relived her thrill that for some magical reason, we were all living together in this big huge house. Heck, w hen people get up in the morning, Elka greets them with that kind of joy. If she was reticent about them, or had a fear, I imagine those feelings would be what she cycles through each time instead.

  2. I don’t know the answer, but if you find out, I want to know! That is SO Morgan! We had a good friend stay for half a week this summer and every morning, or even if he walked out of the room and then came back, she barked at him like he was a stranger. The man was slipping her part of his breakfast and everything, and he lives with GSDs. He’s very savvy with them, but Morgan is just…a special case!

  3. Huck does this, too. I first found this out when my brother and his family of four stayed over last summer and every morning, it was, “Hello, young children! So glad you’re here”, “Hello, wife and short female adult! It’s great that you’re up!”, and then, “Holy sh**, tall scary guy, are you still here? Who let you back in this house? You should probably just leave right now!”

    He will also do it with women sometimes, but more often with men. It really varies by how comfortable he got with the visitor the day before. So now, I just warn visitors before they go to bed that they will need to ignore him again in the morning for a few minutes. If they stay long enough or visit often, this goes away, and everyone gets wiggle butt in the morning, but it can take several days for this phenom to go away.

  4. And I meant to say. I don’t think it’s “selective” amnesia. I think they are kind of surprised about everyone, it’s just that they are dismayed to see the kind of scary person.

    I think it’s part comprehension and part memory. We know dogs have some sense of object permanence. They know 1 + 1 = 2 even if they see the objects disappear behind a screen. But that is looking at this issue in a matter of seconds, when you add hours to the items disappearing behind a screen (or a door), then the fact they are still there is a bit of a shock. And when you’re kind of scared of the person, it’s an unpleasant one.

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