As some of you are already aware and have heard me say before, my eldest BC Puddi is the most incredible teacher, trainer and friend both to me and our other dogs.
What she’s taught me is impossible to put into words but when a young Puddi met my other friend – a then very grumpy, unsociable, fearful 6yr old Springer Spaniel – she really did set about teaching her new big sister how to be a dog.
Cass was grumpy with other dogs which I now realise was because she’d been given a whack for growling, grumbling and being a bit grumpy with other dogs that were annoying her so had grown up sadly associating other dogs with being hit 😦
She avoided all other dogs whilst outside on walks and it often struck me how disinterested she was in them all – almost like she hadn’t even seen them in a way because as one came over ears pricked and ready to play Cassi trotted right past as though it were invisible.
She didn’t like Puddi’s arrival because until then ours was like a holiday home for her where she’d been the only dog, spoiled rotten and allowed total freedom when she stayed with us for 6-months a year or so.
Then Puddi relentlessly bugged, goaded and jumped all over Cass to make her play and it wasn’t until the change in her we realised the initial fear and her reluctance to play or even acknowledge other dogs was on the back of fear and a negative association.
Scolding and hitting a dog for growling is insanity anyway but the poor lass didn’t realise that’s what she was in trouble for – or maybe she did and knew she would struggle if not find it impossible to suppress the urge to lip curl and grumble so instead just veered way out and around them.
The first few times she grumbled and growled at Puddi for annoying her it was followed immediately by her lowering herself to the floor expecting me to shout at or maybe hit her (which broke my heart) and then when that didn’t happen and I gave her a simple “It’s OK Cass you’re OK” she seemed to prick up the interest even more as if “Oh… oh I’m not in trouble? Hey I’m not in trouble!”
Then she’d stand watching Puddi play and bounce around the fields like an idiot with other dogs slowly wagging her tail and looking like she wanted to join in but needing a bit of time to just stand and watch. After giving me a few side-eye glances and then reassurance “It’s OK Cass you go play” my daughter and I were gobsmacked as Cass suddenly set off bouncing around and had a full bout of the zoomies darting all over the place like an idiot and playing with dogs which until then we’d never seen her do once.
Having been something of a meanie at first she would nick and stash all the toys Puddi dug out the box and brought over to her. Cass didn’t have toys of her own and that coupled with jealousy and a nose out of joint over this new little dog meant she would stash and sit on a massive pile of toys.
Puddi couldn’t give the tiniest toss though she’s never been the least bit jealous and the way she’d happily trot to the toy box, dig out something, trot back to the sofa and happily let Cass snatch it off her and stash it behind reminded me of killer whales at Sea-world enticing birds closer with “Hey birdies… wanna fish? Here have this I have a fish for you..”
I didn’t tell Cass off or make an issue because she’d soon learn there was no need to grab and stash toys. There was no threat in Puddi and sure enough she stopped doing it and learned to relax and share space and toys with another dog.
Then things changed when I gave Puddi a snack of fresh peas complete with pod. She carried it back to her lair as she does and was delicately nibbling at it and then Cass did her usual trick and strutted over like a school bully “Oi… dinner money”
I saw Puddi side-eye her, lower her head, curl her lip and give the lowest, deepest rumbling growl and with all her teeth out on show that said “You’re not having my pea-pod so back off bitch…Take one more step and I’ll wipe the floor with you not even kidding “
I sat watching but said nothing to either. Cass had to learn how to behave and show some respect and Puddi had every right to stick up for herself and let her know enough was enough.
With that Cass slowly backed off, turned and walked away and never ever bothered or tried to take another thing from her again. That was all it took to put her in her place and establish some level of understanding and it saw Cassi’s behaviour shift instantly.
So Puddi taught Cass how to be a dog and then when Fleet arrived last year as a young, very bolshy, boisterous, bad mannered young man with no idea how to behave around other dogs never mind live in a house with one, Puddi stepped up again and went into Big-Sister and best teacher mode.
He was food obsessed and barged his way to her food dish but was given a swift snap and vicious snarl from Puddi that said “Back off and don’t ever touch or try taking my food again” and after just that one lesson Fleet learned to stand well back and let her eat. When she’s done and eaten enough she’ll walk away and let him finish whatever is left but credit to him for having learned quickly to behave respectfully.
She taught Fleet how to play-fight and he quickly slipped into following her lead and learning all the routines about life as an indoor dog.
It’s to his credit that he learned,settled and adapted so quickly but also to Puddi’s that she would allow this strange, annoying dog into her home and not be in the least bit jealous of him and know how to teach him without being a bully.
When needs must and he steps out of line – or any other dog steps out of line for that matter – Puddi can turn on a real nasty-ass, vicious side to her and let them know in one swift swipe and snarl they’ve pushed it too far but she’s not aggressive. Hard as nails actually that dog will not take crap or brook nonsense from anyone or anything but she’s the nicest, kindest and most gentle-natured dog I ever met. An absolute enigma sometimes.
This video of an older BC teaching a very young, boisterous puppy how to play reminds me of her with Fleet because of how that puppy won’t quit and ain’t soft but the older dog knows just how much is too much.
Few dogs have that ability either. So proud that mine not only has the ability but remarkably so 😀