Mean Dog, Part 2

The Touch

by Terri Johnson Florentino

Ed and Tulley (1)

I slowly stood up and backed away, careful not to alarm Buddy. As my friend and I discussed his background, I purposely ignored him, but watched his body language in my peripheral view.

His hackles went down, his lips went down, and the growling stopped. I even saw him glance at me. He seemed to want to approach, but was too afraid. A few other border collies were running about not paying any attention to him, nor he to them. “Let’s put him in the crate in my truck,” I said. “I’ll take him home and see what I can do.” Before I left, I got the name and  number of his previous owners.

We arrived to my home with no issues. I pulled into my driveway and opened the back door of my truck. To be safe, I had kept the leash on Buddy and left part dangling outside the crate. I took hold of the leash and slowly opened the crate.

He  cowered in the back, trembling, snarling, and bearing his teeth. I gently pulled on the lead and coaxed him out. He cautiously jumped out of the crate and stood motionless, paralyzed with fear.

Without any discussion and very little eye contact, I  gently gave him a tug, and he followed me for a short walk around.  He began to relax a little. I took him into a  large fenced area, leaving the leash attached to his collar. I’m fortunate that my Border Collies are used to me bringing home the occasional “outsider” to the pack and know well enough to keep their distance. I dropped the leash and let him move about on his own. One by one I introduced my dogs. He barely acknowledged them, and therefore they just left him to explore the yard alone. I remembered the first trainer’s warning, “This dog should never be around other animals.” I was not convinced. So far, so good.

The initial introduction with my dogs went well, so we moved inside. My husband was sitting in the living room watching television, and the other dogs were simply going about their business. I followed Buddy as he moved timidly from room to room. Once the tour of the house was complete, I settled in the living room to  give all the dogs time to adjust.

Everyone behaved. I decided to take off Buddy’s leash. I slowly approached, leaned down, and reached for the clasp. He swung around and bit me.

Surprised and bleeding, I ran to the sink to rinse my hand. I said nothing to Buddy. I didn’t want to aggravate him further. When I returned, I saw that after he’d bitten me, he’d gone to sit by my husband. He seemed to know that he’d done something wrong.

“We need to teach him how to touch our hands,” I said. “If he learns to come to us on his own terms, maybe he won’t feel so threatened.” My hand was still bleeding, so I wrapped it first, then came back in the living room with liverwurst.

I gave my husband a few pieces of liverwurst. “Hold your  palm out flat, and when he touches it with his nose, reward him with a piece.”

“You’re kidding, right?”

“I want him to want to touch your hand. Hold still.” I smeared some of the liverwurst directly onto his palm. Fortunately Buddy seemed to have a high food drive. He touched my husband’s hand gently and got rewarded with the yummy food, My husband kept all his fingers.

Buddy learned this technique  right away and seemed to enjoy working with my husband. But he’d only been in my home a few hours and had bitten me good. Now what?

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22 responses to “Mean Dog, Part 2

  1. Good luck, you have your hands full.

  2. I’m thinking..”she’s got guts”!!! More, more…!!!!

  3. Love the Border Collie Inquisitor. You are gifted with animals as well as with words. Impressed but not surprised! I so agree with the “few words spoken” approach. Hard for a lot of humans, especially females, so I’m told.

    • Terri Florentino

      Thank you, Terry. You are so very right with your observation. I have always said in the case of dog training, less is more. Thank you for your comment.

  4. Loving this story – Even thou I know how this turns out – you have me on edge waiting to find out more!!!!

  5. Like Paul Harvey, we’re eagerly awaiting “…the rest of the story”.
    Really enjoying the gifted writing. Keep up the great work!
    Chris, Mary, & Molly

  6. Yes, more more…..please!! I’m anticipating how it will end but want to know what happens in between.

  7. Terri Florentino

    Part 3 soon to follow. Thank you so much, Chris, Mary & Molly.

  8. I’m enjoying reading this story!!! looking forward to reading how this turns out!!

  9. Sounds like what we went through when we rescued Jack, he had been so emotionally abused, it took us six months before we could trust him around other people. He bonded with me immediately but has tried to bite 5 or 6 other people in our family, we have had him for almost 3 years now, he has made remarkable progress, he will never be normal, but we have been able to give him a wonderful life and he has a “safe” place to go in our home when he is having a bad day. Let me know if I can help.

  10. Terri Florentino

    Thank you, Linda. I remember Jack all to well. You are an angel for giving him such a wonderful life! Appreciate your comments, keep them coming.

  11. “Surprised and bleeding” is something I remember all too well! There were a few times, without warning, Buddy had whipped his head around and bit me. He would apologize in his own way, knowing he did something wrong. Each time he bit, my heart sank. Correcting him seemed to make him more fearful. We didn’t know what to do.

    Terri, your intuitive sense about Buddy from Day 1 was so very impressive and comforting. You wanted to really understand him and what he was about unlike every other trainer we encountered. Thank you many times over for opening your heart and your home to Buddy 🙂

    • Terri Florentino

      Karen, fortunately there has not been any blood shed for many years. Tulley and I were kindred spirits from the first moment that we met. The intuitiveness that you describe is a gift that God gave me. It has been with me my entire life. I am honored and blessed to have been awarded with this natural ability. I feel it is my obligation to do what is right. Thank you again for the lovely compliments.

  12. You are most welcome for the compliments. They are all true. God bless you for knowing your natural gifts and using them for the greater good. You have helped so many animals and their owners in so many ways. The world could use more more people like you.

Whatcha thinking? Gimme that! Grr! Grr!

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