That time Pyrrha met a baby and didn’t freak out

Like a cat
Basking in the sun like a cat.

I’ve been so consumed lately with Eden’s health issues that it’s been easy to neglect Pyrrha’s (behavioral and fear) issues. But I have a happy little story to tell.

Last Wednesday was beautiful, and so I took the dogs on a walk to the tiny nearby park on my lunch break. There were lots of small children milling about, so I walked the dogs in a broad loop. Little kids (especially toddlers) are one of Pyrrha’s fear triggers, so we tread with caution in child-heavy areas. I’ve been giving her lots of space around children and treating her for just observing children from a distance.

As we were leaving the park, without any incidents, I heard someone call my name. One of my friends, with her baby on her hip, came up to meet us. I kept both dogs on close leashes. Pyrrha was interested in the baby, who was a very quiet, dog-friendly baby (she has a big redbone coonhound “brother” at home), and the baby was interested in her. I was nervous and watching everything closely… but the baby just put her hand down, Pyrrha sniffed and licked her hand, and then her feet; the baby smiled; and Pyrrha turned back to watch the rest of the park activity.

I was beaming. The baby’s mom even said, “Wow, Pyrrha is so relaxed around kids.” Ha! Something that has never been said about my dog. This sounds like such a silly little story, but when you have a fearful dog, tiny moments like this feel like HUGE victories. Because they are signs of progress. Of course I don’t think this small encounter means that she is “cured” or even that she isn’t fearful anymore. Pyrrha is not going to be kid friendly in a few weeks, or maybe even in the rest of her life, but she is making progress. And I’m proud of her. (And thankful for calm, dog-savvy infants! I need to meet more of those…)

How have you seen your dog grow and change lately?

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4 thoughts on “That time Pyrrha met a baby and didn’t freak out

  1. It’s difficult to tame the fear in our dogs if we fear they are going to do something “not good”. When I worked with a local dog rescue we always kid-tested dogs. I’m thrilled that you know it’s an issue & are working on it. If there were only more pet parents like you maybe there would be no need for dog rescues. Until that day….

  2. We’ve had Luna for 2 years. Two weeks ago we took her to Dog Socialization Camp at Adventure Dog Ranch south of Tucson for 4 days and 3 nights. While at Adventure Dog Ranch Luna learned to growl. To many people that may not seem a reason to celebrate however before hanging out with Scout, 7-y/o female black Lab and ranch matriarch, and the dogs at ADR she had no growl. This means she did not have the full hierarchy of warnings. She went directly to the loud scary bark if she wanted to warn someone or something to back off or announce to us there was someone or something we needed to know about. I was concerned that her growl had been punished out of her. It may have been.

    So far instead of the glass shattering bark, when Luna sees something outside she wants us to know is there, she has a low growl. When a neighbor and puppy dog training specialist visited our house and was feeding Luna pieces of her dry kibble, she lightly scratched under Luna’s chin. Luna gave another low growl similar to what Scout did with Luna the day we brought her for evaluation.

    I so understand being thrilled over the small steps. Way to go Pyrrha! Abby, your hard work with her is showing.

  3. Silas was freakishly okay with my baby niece. I have a video of him lying on the sofa while she sits a few feet away in her high chair, and they’re both happy. He actually seemed to prefer my brother holding the baby to my brother alone. Then, alas, she started to walk. Now he is DONE. But Pyrrha seems better with people than Silas, so maybe there’s more hope for her. (I.E., Silas hates *anyone* who moves erratically and makes weird noises, which is the definition of toddler, and he expresses that hate by lunging and barking.)

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