Learning to love her human dad

Guion and Pyrrha
Guion and Pyrrha at Yappy Hour.

Pyrrha has made a lot of progress with Guion lately. For the first few weeks, she seemed very nervous around him; she’d watch him like a hawk whenever he was in the same room with her. As the third week rolled around, we both were somewhat dismayed that she hadn’t warmed up to him yet. He wasn’t going anywhere, after all, and probably spent more time with her during the day than I did.

Her obvious preference for me made me feel pretty guilty. After all, I was the one who was really begging for a dog, and then we get a dog who barely gives my tolerant husband a second glance? I felt awful. She was all wiggles and wags and smiles whenever I walked in the door; Guion got a sideways glance and a slinking posture that moved her into the next room.

Love
Love.

Last week, we started pairing Guion with her most high-value treat, dried liver jerky (or something like that; a gift from our neighbor). Guion was the only one who was allowed to give it to her. That worked like a charm; she started to follow him from room to room, but this time out of a spirit of eagerness instead of watchful anxiety. He feeds her whenever he is home with her and gives her lots of gentle attention and affection.

The other night felt like a breakthrough, too: We were out in the backyard and she was in one of her crazy, playful moods. She normally invites only me to play with her; she’d never initiated play with Guion before, but on this particular night, she wiggled right up to him, gave him a play bow, and started dancing around him. Guion and I were both overjoyed. Soon they were both on the grass, wrestling around and playing Pyrrha’s version of fetch (which involves the human throwing an object, Pyrrha chasing said object, and then Pyrrha returning to human without said object). She played with him in that rough, goofy style that I’ve seen her do with other shepherds–lots of teeth, lots of tongue lolling about. (She even snuck up behind him and gave him a play bite on the back of his neck. He let out a yelp, which was sufficient correction. But then she just came back for more.)

She still has some warming up to do with him, but I feel like we’re already making great strides.

Did your dog need any help warming up to a particular family member? What did you do to help him or her feel comfortable with this person?

“Yappy Hour” with the rescue group

Greeting Blake
Tyler and Pyrrha greet Blake at Yappy Hour.

What is it about seeing a bunch of dogs who are the same breed together that is so thrilling?

This past Sunday, Pyrrha’s rescue group, Southeast German Shepherd Rescue, held an event at a local vineyard, adorably titled “Yappy Hour.” Many adoptable shepherds were in attendance, along with a few from Pyrrha’s foster pack. We thought it might be a good way to expose her to some other dogs, especially dogs that she was already familiar with.

I was a little nervous about how she’d do with about 10 other big dogs, but it turns out that Pyrrha has no problem with shepherds. She’s kind of a breed-ist, apparently. During the initial introductions, she showed a little nervousness, but nothing like what she displays toward unfamiliar dogs on the street. I can’t help but think she remembered some of these dogs, too. In the photo above, she’s greeting gentle giant Blake, owned by one of the rescue’s coordinators, with Tyler, an adoptable dog who’s had a rough start.

Jagger!
Onyx bobs for drinks, while Jagger peeks his head out.

I think she was happy to be reunited with some of her foster pack. Pictured above from her foster family: Onyx, the adoptable Belgian malinois mix, goes bobbing for drinks, while Jagger pokes his head out for a look. Jagger, owned by Pyrrha’s foster, Cassie, is a sweetheart and I wish we had him around more to teach Pyrrha some manners. I have a feeling he keeps the pack in line, but leads with a firm and fair paw.

Rawhide time
Jagger and Onyx with rawhides.

I think I may have a weakness for sables. Next dog, maybe? …

Tyler
Tyler.

This is Tyler. He’s up for adoption and has had a really hard go of it. Cassie says he’s been returned seven times by potential adopters. So sad. He was found wandering the streets of a large, metropolitan area. Tyler looks much older than he is (which is about 4) and he’s struggled to keep any weight on. Unfortunately, after a recent check-up, the vets think he may have degenerative bone disease. He’s very gentle, though, and watches people closely. Here’s to hoping that he can recover quickly and find his forever home soon.

Cissy's ears!
Pyrrha and the adoptable puppy, Cissy (with flying ears).

We learned that Pyrrha is somewhat lacking in morals, as she is willing to steal candy from a baby. Cissy, the adoptable shepherd mix puppy above, would get a rawhide and then Pyrrha would sneak up and steal it from her. Tsk! Our girl needs to learn some general etiquette. Cissy, however, is pretty fearless and wasn’t afraid to fight Pyrrha for it; she even got it back a few times.

Relaxing a bit
Hanging out.

All in all, we were really proud of how our girl did. I think she was happy to get to spend some time in the company of other dogs, without much stress or anxiety. The only dog that made her anxious all day was a boisterous yellow lab, who came bounding up to her; all the shepherds (both old friends and unfamiliar ones) didn’t cause much fear at all. It’s clear that we need to expose her to lots of different types of dogs, but I think we’ll get there. For now, it was heartening to see her with lots of other new dogs (even if they were all German shepherds) and not stressed out.

So, question: Do you think this is possible, that a dog could be comfortable with one specific breed and not with others? Have you seen that behavior in your own dog? Does your dog prefer certain breeds, or actively dislike others?

Roll around in the grass

Rolling in the grass
Pyrrha in the grass.

This weekend, Pyrrha encourages you to follow her lead and roll around in the grass. It does wonders for lifting the spirits!

On Sunday, we may attend an event called “Yappy Hour,” hosted at a local vineyard, for Southeast German Shepherd Rescue alumni and their adopters. We may just go for a bit and see if it’s overwhelming to Pyrrha. Lately, she’s been kind of a mixed bag when interacting with other dogs in public. Sometimes, she’s shy but curiously polite; other times (like the other morning, when two muscular weimaraners lunged and barked at her), she’s all hackles and snarling. So, we’ll see.

The good (relieving) news is that we won’t have a pomeranian house guest next week. My boss found someone else to stay in their home and watch Emmie, which I think is a better solution for all involved parties. I think Emmie and Pyrrha could have been good friends, but their serious weight differential (7 lbs. versus 70 lbs.) rather prevented any safe play time. I’m very relieved!

Have a lovely weekend! Talk to you again on Monday. More to come about Pyrrha’s uneasiness around Guion (my husband) and her new love affair with the Cuz ball…

Mmm, bones.
Mmm, bones iz so good.