A couple of weeks had passed. Scout’s game, as I saw it, was to resource guard not only whatever she held in high value, (i.e. a plastic bag or paper towels of all things), but also space and certain people. She knew exactly how to get whatever she wanted. And yet, she could be the most affectionate and lovable pup, as long as it was on her terms. We needed to renegotiate those terms.
As time went on we’d made some progress. Now, in lieu of biting, she’ll give up whatever’s in her mouth with only a brief display of her teeth. Ideally my goal is “no lip” from the little lady. Along with Mirk and Echo she would come to my office with me. The privilege of being able to hang out in the office was immediately revoked as soon as she started inappropriately chewing or rooting through the trash. While I’m working on financials, I don’t appreciate a game of tug o’ war for a banana peel.
At times she could be so defiant and stubborn and yet when I put her in a crate with a Nylabone to chew on she was absolutely content. In fact she seemed to prefer to be in a crate that is, until another dog strolled past. She would explode at the crate door much like a rabid animal unable to control their violent behavior. Echo and Mirk had learned not to cross the “invisible line,” when walking past her while she’s in the crate. A sheet thrown over the door to block her view was also helpful.
My husband, Ed had become the object of her affection. In the evening while relaxing on the couch watching some TV, she’d crawl into his lap, put her front legs on top of his shoulders, and press up against his chest. It looked as if she was deliberately giving him a hug. Of course true to form, while on or next lying next to him, she’d flash her pearly whites at any dog who happened to walk by. There had to be consequences for her actions so Ed would immediately shame her for the less-than-hospitable response and she’d be banned from his side for the remainder of the evening.
Overall she was genuinely fond of most other dogs. Not surprisingly, she had a very clever way of manipulating nearly all dogs to follow her lead, all of them except a dominate dog like my Wyn. She had complete respect for Wyn, but even Wyn chose her battles carefully with Scout.
Occasionally I will evaluate, train, and socialize a shelter dog, and part of that process is interaction with another dog. Two dogs in particular, one a shepherd cross, the other a mixed Rottweiler I allowed to have individual supervised playtime with Scout, and they both enjoyed her company. Of course I was careful not to bring food into the equation as I was certain it would promote an undesirable response from Scout.
I knew we needed to start the re-homing process as soon as I felt comfortable that someone else could manage her behavior. The longer she stayed with my family and me, the more difficult it would be for her to transfer loyalties to another person. I also knew the placement had to be right, or she would lose ground quickly and revert back to her same bratty self. I must admit that my husband and I found ourselves developing a fondness towards her. Letting her go wasn’t going to be easy.
I reached out to a lovely couple that I knew was looking for another dog. They currently had a nice young active Border collie. They had no children and although Scout was very sweet with children, I felt her resource guarding wouldn’t have been safe for a child. Scout was never cruel to the cats I evaluated her with so I didn’t think their two dog-savvy cats would be a problem. I also knew that they would be consistent with the training, and since they lived nearby I could help them through the process. I sent them an email. They were eager to meet with her. We scheduled a meet and greet at their home for the next weekend.
The following Saturday Ed, Scout and I headed out to meet her potential family. As we pulled into the driveway and came to a stop the front door opened and their border collie Willow came bounding out to greet us. Scout, eager to meet her new friend, couldn’t get out of the crate fast enough. She and Willow immediately wanted to play. “This is a good sign,” I thought. After a brief introduction outside we went into the house. I kept the leash on Scout, just in case her behavior might go awry.
“Well, hello there, pretty girl,” Rich said as he bent down and reached out to pet Scout. “She’s beautiful,” Wendy said as she joined Rich. Scout responded to them with as much enthusiasm as she did the first time I met her.
Once inside we sat down and allowed the dogs to interact. Occasionally one of their two cats would cautiously wander past, and Scout would give them nothing more than a curious glance. At first the dogs’ interactions were positive, play bowing and running around, until Scout decided that the ball was to be her toy and she wasn’t willing to share. Willow, disinterested, just walked away. Fortunately, Scout allowed me remove the ball from her mouth without incident. I put it away so as not to tempt her to guard the toy any longer. I also took hold of the leash and gave her a time-out. She nervously forged her way under the chair where my husband was seated; I sensed she was becoming increasingly uneasy. I suggested we just ignore her; she needed time to settle down.
No sooner had we started to relax when the front door swung open and Rich’s parents appeared with their Border collie mix, Dakota. Dakota was an older dog who was large and powerful, he commanded respect. He marched right up to Scout, which sent her into a frenzy. Dakota immediately growled and snapped back. I quickly got up and stood between the two dogs, ordered Dakota to, “Get back” and made Scout sit quietly. Rich pulled Dakota back, “Bad dog,” he scolded, “That wasn’t very nice, you go lie down.” Fortunately once we had the dogs under control, it didn’t take them long to tolerate one another.
We all sat down around the kitchen table to talk. “I made baked fresh banana bread, would anyone like a piece?” Wendy offered as she filled our mugs with fresh hot coffee. Scout eventually crept out from underneath Ed’s chair and stood quietly between us. She moved close to the table, her nose in the air; she smelled the freshly baked bread. As I leaned over to take a sip of my coffee; Scout, faster than a speeding bullet, leapt up and grabbed a piece of bread from the table.
“Off!” I hollered as I grabbed her collar and pulled her away. “Well now,” Rich giggled. “She’ll have to learn some manners.”
After having a more detailed discussion about Scout, we prepared to conclude our visit.
“We’ll be out of town next week,” Wendy said. “Once we return, we’ll let you know if we’re ready to add another member to our family.”
“That’ll be fine,” I said. “We’ll look forward to hearing back from you either way.”
They thanked us for bringing Scout to visit then we headed on our way.
On the ride home Scout was quiet, no doubt exhausted.
“They’ll be the right home for her if they decide to adopt her,” I said.