As if I needed further proof that you should never rest on the laurels of life, Huck got banned from doggie daycare this week.
Things had been going extraordinarily well. He went to daycare most days, and to work with Joel on the others. He loves going to work with Joel because he gets to sleep on the couch, and seemed to really love going to daycare – at least, he would jump out of the car and drag us inside, racing from person to person for his morning pets. Some days we had to drag him out of the lobby in the evening because he wanted more pets/treats. We had trimmed his meds back to just one pill a day, the lowest dose. We found an awesome dog park on the way to/from Claire’s mom’s house and school, which is perfect for weekends and even sunny evenings when there’s time. He had been so good that we weren’t even giving him the heavy meds when we needed to leave him alone. We simply gated him up in the kitchen with Cooper and went on our way, spying on him whenever we got a motion-detection alert from the Dropcam app. (BTW, we are madly in love with our Dropcam. It gives us complete peace of mind when we have to leave the dogs at home.)
Then, last week, I got a bad report card from the daycare owner when I picked him up. There was an energetic puppy in the same room as Huck, and Huck had gone after it when the puppy wouldn’t leave him alone. He did not bite the other dog. Didn’t leave a single mark on it. But his admonishment was aggressive enough that they were concerned. The daycare owner recommended we find a dog trainer to deal with his aggression, which made both Joel and I laugh/cry a little. As you all know, Huck and Cooper have about a million trainers and people looking after them. We continued on our regular routine, took him to the park where he showed no aggressive tendencies at all, and hoped for the best. On Wednesday Huck went after another dog and was asked to not come back.
Huck has never liked puppies or other energetic dogs, and sadly these dogs ALWAYS like Huck. He has told more than one dog off for getting in his face over the years, and it does indeed seem really scary. But he’s never bitten or even nicked another dog besides Cooper, so my assumption is that he’s not trying to do harm, he’s just telling the other dog to get the hell out of his way.
Still, I understand that the daycare can’t give Huck special attention or risk his behavior getting worse. I also realize that these people aren’t really dog experts – they’ve taken some basic classes and spend a lot of time around dogs, but they aren’t behavior specialists or trainers. Whereas the people at his last dog walking/daycare situation were highly invested in behavioral change, the folks at the new daycare are basically just babysitters.
We’re moving on to something new. Reverting to something old, to be fair, and I’m quite happy about it. I’ve been vocal about not loving the free-for-all nature of doggie daycare since the beginning. I much prefer him getting structured walks, so we’re working with Cooper’s dog walker (formerly also Huck’s dog walker) to find a solution that works. I cannot say enough nice things about Steve at Minneapolis Ruff Break. He has been very willing to do whatever it takes to help us out, and also always brings solutions to the table.
We started reintroducing Steve into the mix for Huck on Tuesday. We gave him a low dose of extra anxiety medication, just in case. Steve came at 8:25 while we were all still home to take Huck and Cooper for a walk. We set up the baby gates in the kitchen, turned on the camera, and went to work so that we would already be gone when they got back. Huck spent most of the day pacing and looking apprehensive, but he didn’t do any damage to the kitchen, himself, or Cooper. We repeated this yesterday, with even better results. The dogs got a long bike ride in the pouring rain, and Huck slept soundly for most of the day, only getting up to stretch and turn in some sleepy circles before laying back down. (Cooper, of course, slept straight through the day in a coma-like state.)
Today Huck’s at work with Joel, and we still need to figure out the schedule for next week. It won’t be as easy without daycare, for sure. It was so great knowing we could just take him there whenever and not have to think about it. But I’m hopeful that the new setup is going to work out. And if it doesn’t, we’ll try something new! The Huck thing has gotten so complicated that it’s laughable, and at this point I’m just along for the ride.
- Having a pitbull is hard, but having a Huck is harder (thebefuddledstepmonster.com)
- The ballad of Huck (Extended Remix) (thebefuddledstepmonster.com)