We’re making progress! Lucy didn’t try to kill Poppy Petunia when my cell phone rang! I can’t remember the last time that happened!
Now, having made that happy announcement, I need to stress that it doesn’t mean Lucy is cured of her predatory drift. It was merely a wonderful moment of peace. Lucy has trained Amanda and I to appreciate these small moments. She has also trained us to recognize that these moments are not a sign that Lucy is a normal dog. We’ve made that mistake several times.
Within two weeks of Lucy arriving in our house, something startled Lucy out of a sleep and she freaked out. Hearing Lucy freak out, Poppy came over to investigate and Lucy attacked. Dogfight number one. Our wonderful vet recommended a dog behavourist. The woman gave us some insight into triggers that could set Lucy off, as well as some training tools. Both dogs were fed on leash in separate zones, access to prized toys was controlled, etc. After a month, Lucy and Poppy were playing together, chasing feral cats out of our yard together and sleeping on Amanda’s bed together. We truly felt that we had turned the corner. Then something unexpected startled Lucy and she tried to kill Poppy.
Lucy and Amanda went to Doggie Obedience School. Lucy aced the courses. She could sit instantly, she could do the most number of doggie pushups and she could stay longer than the other dogs. And yet, when Poppy and I picked them up with the car, the first thing Lucy would do was turn to the back seat and growl at Poppy. At that point, Poppy became Lucy’s stress reliever. Lucy would get stressed and she would take her frustration out on Poppy. By this point, I couldn’t even begin to count the number of dogfights in our house. Easily one to two a day. Needless to say, it was a stressful period.
With the help of the behaviourist, we finally recognized Lucy’s predatory drift condition and we also came to the sad realization that Lucy wasn’t going to be “cured”. That’s a hard place to come to. Especially with dog behavior shows like Cesar Millan’s are all over the media. On those shows – every dog is cured of their bad behavior or is on the road to being cured. It gives many of us false hope and a sense of failure when our own dog doesn’t measure up. But guess what? Sometimes a bad dog is just going to stay that way.