Friday, October 28, 2005

Terrier Tale

My Parson Russell terrier (aka JRT), Wimsey, shows his terrierness in occasional snarkiness (OK, frequent snarkiness) with dogs he doesn't know. He'll especially do this when he's on leash and I'm not quick enough to click-and-treat his good behavior.

He likes to run the show whenever possible, including going up against dogs three or four times his size--and he usually gets them to back down.

Well, yesterday, our trainer friend invited us to come to a nearby pet-food store to say hi, as she was starting another Thursday-evening obedience class.

Wims and I went over, and met a couple dogs in her class: a big, square-shaped dog and an adorable mastiff puppy. Wims was a perfect gentleman (think Frank-Sinatra-holding-a-martini gentleman). I stood holding a loose leash as he and the big dog sniffed each other in a nice hello. All my obedience work with him is paying off, I'm thinking in self-congratulations.

About 45 minutes after we'd returned home, Melissa called to say that the big, square dog has some, well, aggression issues. And she was amazed that Wimsey had kept his cool. She felt the Wee One may have sensed the other dog's issues and kept the peace by not instigating anything or being in the least bit alpha.

Now, Wims is the kind of terrier that really wants to run the show. I'd been proud of him when I thought he was falling back on the training I'd been doing with him, but I was really, really proud--and humbled--to realize that his behavior had nothing to do with me. This was a smart terrier playing his cards just right.