Something Learned Sunday
Murphy and I have started lessons with Libi, a woman whom we like to call our own Dog Whisperer. Our fist lesson was way back in August, when Chris and I learned that by letting our little floppy dog-child have the run of the house, we'd confused and stressed him out. Our second lesson was last Tuesday, when everybody learned how stubborn Murphy can be, and Libi and I ended up discussing religion for a couple hours beyond the training session. But let's rewind a little...
When we first met Murphy, we heard stories of his gentlemanly behavior from infancy. The only brother in the litter, Murphy always let his sisters eat first, and so often didn't get enough for himself. A mother only has so much milk. Because of this, he was adopted a little early and bottle fed to get him the nutrition he needed. What we saw as sweet, Libi explained showed that Murphy is not only a naturally submissive pup, but a complete omega, meaning, the very bottom of the heap, the farthest from the alpha of the pack. In the wild, a born omega like him would be allowed to starve if not by his mother, then by the rest of the pack. Of course being a housepet, we're going to let the stinker live. In all seriousness, I was a little appalled by Libi's explanation of Murphy's psychological make-up, not wanting to even imagine this little bundle of curly, cuddly hair could ever be left to die, but it makes sense. And by letting him do whatever he wants, we've put him in a position he's quite naturally uncomfortable with, thus inviting him not to treat us like the alphas we're supposed to be. He's on duty because we forgot to tell him we're in charge.
Around other dogs, Murphy seems immediately at ease because the hierarchy is clear. Once everyone knows who's in charge, Murphy very comfortably takes his spot last in line and seems downright happy about it. But between Murphy and his people, there's work to be done to create a more secure home for this little guy. We've made progress and Murphy has started to respond better and my suspicions of high intelligence are being supported left and right when I can actually see the wheels turning while he's trying to decide whether or not he wants the treat badly enough to give me what I want. He's certainly balking at my sudden attempts to dominate, but I can't really blame him. He tests everything to make sure we're sticking to our guns, and when we do, he behaves magnificently just long enough for us to get a little lazy, and then I'm chasing him across three yards trying to trick him into coming close enough for me to grab him. But no matter how mad he makes me when he doesn't listen, I know the work is mine to do. Nothing beats a curly little character squeezing between my leg and the arm of the couch to fall asleep, and even if he never learns to listen to me, I'm not sure I could love another (living) dog more.
I've just realized that I've completely forgotten where I was going with this. So today's lesson? Don't start a blog post and then ramble on without knowing the point you'd like to wind back around to making. Happy Sunday.