Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Doggie Downer


I was optimistic about finding a dog for us, so after many phone conversations and emails about a 25-pound mix in need of a new home, I picked up the dog on Sunday...and she barked at me a lot and stayed as far away from me as she could. "Oh, she's like that," the owner's fiancee said. "She just takes some time to warm up to you." Okay. After a few minutes, the dog hopped into my open car and waited for me, although she didn't seem happy and friendly -- just very wary. I petted her for a while and then we took off. As we were driving, she looked out the window, and when I reached out to pet her once, she flinched. Okay. We rolled into town and I took her into the pet supply store with me. While we were there, three women petted her with no problem -- she was friendly toward them. When a man reached down to pet her, however, she backed way up. Okay. I bought some food, toys, chewies, and a couple of other things, and we headed back to the car. On the way to the lake, I gave her a couple of treats. She was starting to become a little attached to me, I could see. We took a walk by the lake, but she didn't go potty. Hmm.

We headed over to my house and got there just as my brother and his girlfriend were arriving. The dog barked like crazy at the two of them, which set off the little dog next door, and my (almost) dog was scared enough that she didn't want to go upstairs. We finally got inside my place, and my brother went upstairs to check email while I sat downstairs with his gf and the dog. The dog was fine with the two of us, although she stayed close to me after drinking a little water. A couple of times, the dog ventured upstairs to check out the place (and my brother, I presumed) and was quiet. She came back and napped a bit next to me. Then my brother came downstairs and the dog went a little nuts, barking and backing up. My brother sat on the couch and I sat next to him to show the dog all was well, and the dog gradually came to us with some coaxing. Then my brother and his gf took off for a few errands.

While they were gone, I discovered the dog had peed upstairs. Okay. I had carpet cleaner, so I took care of it, and spent a couple of hours just hanging out with the dog, petting her and letting her look around. Finally she took a little nap.

My brother and his gf came back later, and I thought maybe the dog would be okay with them since she'd already met them. Nope. She barked like crazy again, backing up. It wasn't happy barking, like "Yay! People!" It was more like "Get the hell out!" barking. My brother and his gf sat at the dining room table and the dog sat by me, looking at them and growling repeatedly.

The initial barking wasn't a deal breaker in itself, nor was the peeing upstairs, which I chalked up to nerves, but after spending the afternoon/evening with the dog, I didn't feel good enough about it to subject the kiddo to her overly cautious temperament. I figured if she was barking and growling at people who were just sitting there doing nothing, she would react even more strongly to a little person trying to get in her face. So...I called the owner's fiancee and told her I was bringing the dog back.

Although the dog was very pretty, she was definitely not as good-natured as the owner had described her. All I could think was that if I were childless, I might have been willing to take the time to work with her on the shyness thing, but I had a bad feeling about what might happen if the kiddo startled the dog or tagged her to play. Just not a good dog for us.

As I drove the dog back to her home (I'd originally planned to keep her overnight and introduce her to the kiddo in the morning to see how things went), she seemed to recognize the area and got excited. By the time we pulled into K.'s driveway, the dog was on my lap and trying to get out the window. When K. took the leash, some other people walked past us and the dog barked like crazy at them, too. Whatever. I'm definitely not opposed to some barking if it's happy barking, but barking and growling out of fear and skittishness just seemed like a precursor to a possibly less fortunate incident down the line, dog this time.

Back to the drawing board. I was definitely disappointed, but I could feel in my gut that I was making the right decision by bringing her back. *sigh*