Tuesday, March 7, 2017

It's Official... Everyone in the Neighborhood Hates Us

I believe I have mentioned in the past that Toby is highly reactive when it comes to other dogs. Well, he seems to have a vendetta going against another dog a couple of houses down, on the corner of our street. They both go ape-shit when they see each other. Unfortunately, the other dog is never leashed in his own back yard and can jump the fence. Which he has done before when seeing Toby. We usually walk Toby on the far side of the street to avoid confrontation and most days it works. Sometimes, however, we fail to notice they are out in the back yard, and it gets interesting.

Anyway, Best Guy got a bit of an earful from Dog Mom on Toby's walk this morning. It was a little passive-aggressive and coming from a place of fear, but she still got her point across.

No one likes your dog, and you are bad dog parents. If you moved next week, everyone on the block would be very happy about it.

I think I've mentioned before I get that vibe a lot when Toby is around others, but for Best Guy this was really the first time he encountered such blatant negativity.

What really, really saddens me is that if we had known how difficult Toby was going to be, we probably would not have adopted him. Which is awful to say, but also a truth. We have very much changed how we go about life to accommodate his fearful behavior. We have made progress in many areas, but it has been hard-won and is always on shaky ground.

I almost feel like he would be better placed in a rural environment where he would seldom come in to contact with anyone or anything else. I think he would thrive there. Being in a suburban environment with dogs in every other house means each walk is torture for him.

I now carry a mental map and time table of "acceptable" times to walk Toby in order to mitigate interaction with other living souls. He cannot be walked between 7:45am and 8:45am, because there are too many kids being walked to school. Between 4:30 and 6pm is dangerous because everyone else is walking their dogs at that time. Walk on the other side of the street to avoid these houses, who have dogs whose parents think they are better behaved then they are. This guy always takes walks around the block at this time, so avoid him.

I adore Toby with every fiber of my being. When it's just us, he is a good dog. However, we have already decided that after Toby moves on the the Great Bunny Field in the Sky that our next dog will be a beagle puppy, in order to nip any behavioral issues in the bud before they get started. I think we both agree that we just can't do this again. Which is heartbreaking, but true. Neither of us are dog trainers, and we simply don't have the money to hire a dedicated trainer for the length of time needed to turn his issues around. And at nearly 9 years old, how effective would it be?

Toby is my first dog (Buddy was my first step-dog, but he was and shall forever be Best Guy's Dog), and the last year has been an interesting experience. My love for him and embarrassment of his behaviors has twisted in to some bizarre... thing that I can't even describe. I hate taking him on excursions, because his fear and anxiety suck all the fun out of the day. Having people over to the house causes me huge amounts of anxiety, because I worry that this might be the time Toby finally draws blood when someone gets too close with a hand.

But I love him, and mostly I feel sorry for him. Because he simply cannot see past his fear long enough to see how many people would be his friend. If only he'd fucking shut up for five minutes.

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