Wednesday, December 22, 2010
An Anchor of Stability
Abby’s protectiveness made it difficult to discipline Andy. As sweet as Andy was, he made mistakes and needed to be disciplined. Andy learned so quickly, and he did respond to negative reinforcement. However, giving Andy a spank could be impossible at times. Abby knew when I was mad and when a spank was imminent. Abby would sit on her haunches and lightly paw at my leg to distract me and prevent me from spanking Andy. This tactic worked well with Abby when she was a mischievous puppy so she used it to ward off spankings for Andy. Unfortunately, there were some bad habits of Andy that persisted well into his adult years because I never had a chance to teach him any better.
Andy, on the other hand, looked to Abby as his anchor of stability. Andy always had a lot of hang-ups. He was scared of many things. When he was scared, he withdrew into himself, shut down and tried to hide. He was scared often. He is a sweet dog, but his borderline neurosis meant I couldn’t play with him in a manner I did with Abby. I couldn’t tease or roughhouse Andy. Acts of aggression like this upset him. He viewed such aggressiveness as a challenge. He was no alpha dog, and wanted no part of any challenges.
When someone rang the doorbell or a strange sound entered the room, a normal dog such as Abby or Father would look to the door in the room or the window. Not Andy. He would jostle around in an agitated state and nervous state; he would look to Abby for direction. If she thought things were OK, then he would stand down and relax. I always thought it was cute he would look to Abby for guidance. Abby would always take charge, and Andy would faithfully follow. He needed her to assuage his fears. She was his anchor of stability.