Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Queenie: The Good and the Bad

Queenie's been here for a few days now, and I'm beginning to approach the point where I can start cataloguing some of her good and not-so-good traits. This is, of course, an extremely preliminary list. On top of that, dogs, like people, change over time in response to their environments. Some of the things she does here might only make sense to her here; conversely, as long as she lives in Foster Dog Bootcamp, she won't have the chance to get into some of the unpredictable and doubtlessly awesome adventures o' trouble that I'm sure she'll inevitably get up to in her real home.

Because they always do. They always do. And Queenie is waaaayyy more mischievous than average. There is not a mean bone in her body, but she is an impish little troublemaker for sure.

Just look at that smile. Tell me that's not trouble. You can't. Exactly.

And so, without further ado, a very very preliminary list of...

  • Loves food + loves to tug = easiest dog in the world to motivate for training. Queenie will work for half of a stale animal cracker and an old sock. I'm not kidding. Well, about the sock anyway.
  • Extremely athletic and agile. Capable of leaping tall buildings and/or startled owners with a single bound. She can do it backwards, too.
  • Clever, clever little dog. Very quick learner, and quick to offer behaviors that she thinks you want. Queenie is already sitting unprompted at stoplights and before I open doors. Not always, but probably around 50% of the time, and this is with zero focused training effort to achieve that. She's just doing it because she thinks it's what I want and she is trying to be a Good Dog.
  • Bold, adventurous, brave. Resilient when startled. She has a good balance between recognizing when something might be dangerous but being quick to try new approaches instead of panicking in response.
  • Good with sociable dogs. I was initially a little worried about this because Queenie would snark at Dog Mob from inside her crate the first couple of days (she does not do this anymore, now that they've all gotten used to each other) and because she was charged by an extremely vocal, dog-aggressive pit bull on a walk her first night here. We had the misfortune of running into that same dog and same response not five minutes later as we went around another block, and this time Queenie helpfully offered to take off the other dog's face in response to his rudeness (never mind that he was probably four times her size. Did I mention she's not easily scared?). So I was a little concerned that she might either be or become reactive, based on that episode... but nope. Three days later, it's like none of that ever happened. She's completely happy to ignore other dogs she sees on walks.
  • Does not resource guard anything against people. Does not resource guard toys against other dogs. I don't know whether she will guard food against other dogs, since for now I'm feeding her separately in her crate.
  • Fine with small pets. She is curious about the guinea pig but not predatory, and will readily ignore the pig in favor of playing tug or otherwise interacting with a person.
  • Super awesome at pottying outside. I am very, very grateful for this character trait right now, because we have been having insane rainstorm deluges and it is NOT weather I'd like to stand around in for 40 minutes while awkwardly waiting for the new dog to pee. I am SO happy Queenie is easy in that regard. She goes without complaint within 10 minutes, no matter the weather.

  • Flipside of a highly food motivated dog (who is also underweight from some recent hardships): Queenie is a vacuum on the streets. She will pull toward, and attempt to snarfle, any disgusting rain-sogged unidentifiable blob of pulp that might or might not have been or contained food at some point in the past 10,000 years.
  • Also she will try to get into trash cans containing food, food-like substances, napkins that at some point may have come into contact with food, etc.
  • She pulls on leash toward squirrels, pigeons, and other walking dog toys around the city.
  • She has the Jack Russell Terrier trait of circling around behind you and jumping on your kneecaps from ambush. I actually had no idea this was a JRT thing until I was complaining about it to some dog friends and one of them was like "oh yeah that is totally a JRT quirk, tons of them do it" and I was all "heeeyy, I learned something new today!" And now maybe you have too. Hooray! Anyway, after a couple of days of me whirling around and going "No!" at Queenie every time she did it, the kneecap ambushes are largely a thing of the past, but I wouldn't be surprised if that recurred once she got a new person. It's not a big deal and it's easy to fix, but it's there.
  • Did snark at Dog Mob for the first couple of days. If there is a resident dog or dogs in the new home, expect to go through a few days of snaps and growls if other dogs approach Queenie in her crate. Again, this went away once she got familiar and comfortable with my dogs, but it was a thing in the beginning.
  • Will steal your socks if she gets a chance. She doesn't eat them, she just parades around with them, waving them proudly in the air like they are the greatest trophies that could ever exist in all dogdom.
  • Sometimes whines in her crate if she's feeling lonely or bored. It's not very loud and she usually settles down within a couple of minutes (if she doesn't, it is because she has to potty and needs to be taken out), but she does make a little noise in there occasionally.

I don't honestly think of any of those "bad" things as being particularly bad. They're dog things, and Queenie is a dog. All of her behaviors are on the continuum of normal dog behaviors, and none of them is especially severe or difficult to deal with -- frankly, I'd think an owner who couldn't handle this stuff should probably just get a plush toy instead of a real dog.

But in the interest of full disclosure, that's what I've seen from her so far.

1 comment:

  1. She sounds awesome! I'm imagining her going home with an equally spunky kid, then spending equal amounts of time getting in trouble and collecting 4H ribbons.