Monday, June 4, 2012

Our “Vicious” Pit Bulls Get Visitors

So my Mom, Aunt K, Aunt D and Uncle J came to visit.

The first day was a little challenging because to get to our land, folks (with normal cars) need to dump their cars far down the road and ride in our truck. Which would have been fine if our Blazer (which can easily carry our crowd) hadn't dropped dead. Instead, we had to use the pickup. Me, Quantum and 4 other adults plus two decent sized pits. Can we say crowded?

We let the dogs run alongside the truck. There was just no way to fit everyone in. Besides it was only 2 miles on a dirt road with no traffic other than us. I was worried they'd run off and get in trouble, but nope, they followed the truck with no problem. By the time we were 3/4 of the way there, I could see Zen tiring. (Black dog on a hot day.) Bushi, on the other hand was darting off to explore things (flushed birds, squirrels and rabbits) and circling back to the truck. She didn't even look like she was breaking a sweat.

It was great! By the time we got home, the dogs were nicely tuckered out and we didn't have to worry about the dogs being so “bunctious” that they'd misbehave. They don't mean to be bratty, but we don't get many visitors out here, and both of them usually get keyed up when someone comes out here, and they often want to jump. (And the challenge is that we don't get enough visitors to effectively train them not to jump.) Plus Zen hasn't figured out that he isn't a lap dog, and thinks that EVERYBODY wants kisses.

Then, a day or two ago, Aunt K decided she wanted to take a walk in the woods. She asked Quantum if Zen could come along (seemed like he wanted to) and he said sure.

Zen has been growing out of his boisterousness slowly. As a puppy he was rather much of a brat at times, and NEVER calm and relaxed when friends came over.

Understand too, that Zen has only recently started following me around. Oh of course, when we were in the house, he wanted to be near us. But outside? In the past he was just so thrilled to be outside and off leash (since he grew up in a condo and couldn't run wild) that if the two of us were outside together, it was unpredictable whether he'd stay near me or not. He might follow me for a while but going off exploring was what he considered fun.

Part of that's our fault. For the first 9 months we were here, I'd only let him outside if we had him on a leash. Even here in the middle of nowhere. Rattlesnakes were my primary fear, but (knock on wood) we haven't seen any yet, and when we got Bushi last year we finally started getting up the bravery to let the two of them run together.

A couple months ago he totally changed his tune about this. Any time I walk out the door now, he has to be next to me. Three years old and his “guard mode” has kicked in with a vengeance. What I really didn't expect was that this would transfer over to other people.

Well not only did he follow Aunt K up the mountain, he stayed within a few yards of her, and when he finally gave her the signal that he really wanted to go home (and wise woman that she is, she got it) he'd run a few yards ahead then come back and wait for her. She could tell that he really wanted to be back at the house, but he wasn't willing to leave her alone.

The Aunts and Uncle have gone home (wish they could have stayed longer!) however Mom's still here. Rather than staying in a hotel alone, Mom decided she'd stay in our ex-roommie's trailer. That means no running water and all the attendant challenges. She's a rugged woman!

Quantum walked her over to the trailer, and Zen followed. And stood in front of her trailer. Quantum called him back towards our own trailer and Zen came to him then walked back to stand in front of the trailer Mom was in. It took him a good fifteen minutes to decide she was safe until he came back to us.

Today he's been following her all over the place as she wanders around our property. He stays about a half step behind her, and has only come in when she does, or when (as right now) she's sitting in the shade reading a book and he's decided she's safe for now. (And it's afternoon now, and way hot for a black dog, again.)

Bushi's always been more independent. Growing up as a stray dog means she loves to be outside and loves to roam. She's happy when she's inside with us, but she likes her alone time. She was also walking with Mom, though she'd take off from time to time. And Bushi is nearly always super good and obedient, so forgive me if I'm talking about Zen (my problem child) being good more than her.

What I noticed is that the two of them were taking turns. When Zen got too hot, or wanted to check something out, Bushi would stay with Mom, and vice versa.

I've always known that pit bulls were called “the Nanny Dog”. Now I get why. Having decided that she is for some reason his “charge” Zen is totally devoted to her. We never trained him for this. He just figured it out on his own, and Quant and I are proud as heck to be his parents.

So our first experiment with having visitors is a resounding success. I'm thrilled. We have good dogs. We always knew it, but now it's been proven. Yep, our “vicious pit bulls” immediately welcomed people into the pack and not only were polite, but made it their job to ensure that the new members of their pack were safe and watched over.