My Dog Molly: The Paradox

A girl's discovery about her dog and herself.

i am rubber and you are glue…


For the last two weeks I got to enjoy family, friends, the ocean, seafood, hiking, and camping. The only thing missing was M. Because I had to fly for nine hours it was best that she stay at the kennel with people she knew and care about her. I try to tell myself she has fun there but she always comes back exhausted and longing for peace. This time she came back with kennel cough, or rather, Bordetella.

Yes, she was vaccinated but like the human flu vaccine it doesn’t protect against all strains. The owner of the kennel was upfront about the whole thing and already had the vet up to visit her and start antibiotics. She’s already on the mend but I can sense it is tiring her out a little. To sweeten the healing a little I’m also giving her some unpasteurized local honey to sooth the throat. She seems to like it.

We start back with the socialization training this week but instead of involving another dog and risking it getting infected we are just going to do a few walks and see how she interacts with the world. It’s a little less controlled but so too are our walks. And after last night’s walk I’m learning that sometimes people are more vicious than dogs.

Everything started out perfect. Molly was by my side the whole way just enjoying the world around her. Because of the heat I decided to take her on a lower pathway that was well sheltered by trees. I tend to avoid this path as it can make for some tight quarters should another dog come along and I don’t want to set M up for failure. But it was a quiet day and I thought I’d take my chances.

We were almost through the trail when I noticed a lovely little Boarder Collie coming towards us off leash…note…this is NOT an off leash area, I avoid those for M’s sake. I saw the owner and yelled out calmly, “my dog can be reactive, please call your dog back to you.” He didn’t respond so I yelled out again. Finally, he called his dog but she didn’t respond and kept coming towards us. It wasn’t until the dog was about five feet in front of us did M react, and not pleasantly. I proceeded to pull her into the shrubs and put myself between her and the approaching dog. Finally, the owner grabbed his dog’s collar and muttered something unintelligible. Frustrated I said to him, “You realize this is not an off leash park.”

Well, that set him off on a nasty, rude tangent calling me a variety of names and trying to insult me. Then he proceeded to say he was going to call the police because my dog should be muzzled. Now this confused me because I now had control over her and she was calmly sitting behind me as he continued to berate me with insults. I tried to engage him in an adult conversation but he seemed to only want to rant, yell, and scream obscenities. It was horrible. Even his dog was cowering…which concerned me especially if that interaction was indicative of his day-to-day temperament.

I did respond back to him and I’m not overly proud of it. Ideally I should have just moved on but I didn’t. I kept trying to get him to calm down and understand what I was trying to say but he would have none of it. Eventually, I did move on…shaken and upset that someone would behave that way. His words directed at me really didn’t hurt, I kept remembering that childhood rhyme “I am rubber and you are glue, whatever you say bounces off me and sticks to you.” What bothered me most was what he was saying about my dog–she handled herself extremely well in this scenario…better than he did!

All I can do is wonder what possesses a grown person to behave in such an awful manner. Perhaps I’m naive but maybe he was having a terrible time of things and I was his trigger and he now regrets his behaviour. One can only hope right?

In the meantime, my little girl is healing and playing quietly with her squirrels. 🙂



8 thoughts on “i am rubber and you are glue…

  1. I’m sorry you had that experience. I had a similar experience last Monday when I was walking my reactive dog Olive. We were walking on the roadside as usual and I heard a commotion coming from behind a house and thought to myself “$&@&?!, here comes a dog!!” And sure enough- a brindle pit cane running up the side lawn. I braced myself. As soon as the dog was about 10 feet from me, I screamed as loud as I could “GET AWAY FROM ME!” And took a big step toward the dog. He immediately turned tail and went home. Meanwhile, Olive just stood there; she didn’t react to the dog at all. She seemed a bit unsettled by my behavior though, and seemed a little nervous for the next 5 minutes. This was definitely one of my nightmare scenarios come to life.

    • I envy people who have dogs they don’t have to be on guard for all the time. It can be exhausting. What would make it a lot easier though is if those people who have ‘worry-free-dogs’ took the time to understand not every dog is ‘friendly’ (I hate that term, as Molly is friendly, just nervous). I especially love how so many people critique me and my methods because it isn’t what the Dog Whisperer would do–as if watching a one hour show makes them experts on all reactive dogs. Sigh.

  2. Sorry you had that experience, but it is a sad realty in our life these days! People are rude, in a hurry and drive bad to boot! I saw a young girl hanging on to her dads arm the other day in the grocery store and she was about ten I guess. He shrugged her off and said get off and then mom chimed in with yes, why are you hanging off of us? The young girl proceeded to cry. Really? Since when is a child showing affection a bad thing? Well I had to bite my tongue but if looks could kill…..

    I guess you can’t fix stupid people. However, Molly had a positive experience because she was by your side and you remained in control! That means alot! Keep up the good work!

  3. Most welcome and people really need to start realizing as you say that the Dog Whisperer is a show. Not all dogs are the same and not all handlers can pull off certain training. I have seen more people ruin a dog using methods they derived from Caesar. Such as my recent client who the so called positive trainer pinned him down until he was screaming! Argh!!! He now trusts me but I had to undo everything this trainer did! Pinning a dog down can often take away their spirit and trust of humans! It definately is TV land.People wouldn’t do most of the things they see on TV why do that?

  4. AH! My previous trainer taught me to roll Molly and I swear it was the worst thing I ever did. Sadly, I did it too often despite feeling like I shouldn’t. In truth, any time I did roll her it seemed to make her worse and worse. Combine that with the fact that he had me use a prong collar and..well…you understand what I’m dealing with now. I wish I had had the confidence or awareness then that I do now but all I can do is try to reverse the damage done. So far, with the beaviourist, I’m seeing progress and she’s slowly building her trust and confidence up. She never mistrusted me but she started to “smile” at anyone who paid attention to her. I have work to do but I feel like I’m on the right path now. It just breaks my heart to think that I hurt her for far too long.

  5. You did not hurt your dog, she trusts and loves you! She knows you are doing your best. A prong is a fabulous tool if used correctly. I have seen hundreds who do not! Many people with arthritis welcome them! If I can ever help answer a question for you(go to my website and email me).

    It is of course an educated guess without seeing the dog or her fears! Sounds like you will do well with the behaviourist though! It is all about building this dog’s confidence for sure!

    Exposing her to more and more situations that make her feel uncomfortable will help. My one dog was so fearful going out in public anywhere. She will now go right into busy tourist areas a few years later. Don’t despair. Patience, love is all she needs and is clearly getting from you!

  6. and dogs are the most forgiving creatures ever! just ask the poor dog who is tied out on a chain forty feet from the house. He would still give his life for that thankless owner. So you keep up the great work with your dog! It takes time!

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