Saturday, September 15, 2012

Loki, our little social butterfly

Disclaimer: This post is mostly about my dog. If you stop reading now, I wont be offended. 

 A year ago, Loki had one doggie friend, an older cocker spaniel (my in-law's dog) who he has known his whole life. Today, he has four (with one partial, I'll explain). We thought he was "beyond help" for getting along with other dogs and had stopped actively trying to change that.

Enter Penny, a tiny tea cup poodle, who came to visit us last fall. Whether it was her size or her timid nature, Loki didn't say boo to her - just sniffed her butt and went along his business. We were surprised, but then again, maybe he thought she was too small to be a threat.

This summer some good friends of ours got Lucy, a sweet little rescue dog. We knew that they needed to be friends because we see Lucy's owners often and we'd like the dogs to be able to be together. To our shock, their first meeting went well. Lucy and Loki worked out their differences pretty much on their own; Lucy, being a puppy, wanted to play with Loki, being an old dog, and he would have none of that nonsense. Now, they have come to an agreement and it seems like he sometimes tolerates a small amount of playing. They have romped in the woods together, attended many parties, and have shared their toys.  A few weeks ago, Loki was invited to a party and met Milo. He was content to let Lucy enjoy playing with Milo while he scouted out the ground near the grill.

Hanging out with Lucy.
So, that's four dogs, which is a significant increase. After many years of believing one thing about our dog, we have begun to believe another, and - perhaps - have begun to let him be a dog. We are more confident with him when we approach other dogs and we know that, after the initial rough meeting, he will probably do okay. The "dog aggressive" label that he was given has slipped and we are amazed as he shows us what he is capable of if we let him.

He does have one "partial friend," the verdict of which will be decided this coming week. Christopher's sister and her family have a nice little dog, Scout, who ventured to the U.S. alone from Asia a few weeks ago. Christopher picked the dog up at the airport and she spent a night here with us. We think (hope) that the disorientation and trauma of being flown halfway around the world alone and being picked up by a total stranger didn't allow Scout a fair chance at meeting Loki. Loki, however, did great and even responded calmly when she kinda freaked out in the middle of the night (doggie version of jet lag?). We think that Scout will do better with her family in a different environment.

So, what can be gleamed from Loki's recent increase in dog friends? Sometimes we get labelled and end up in a rut because we don't allow ourselves to experience anything else. Maybe all we need is a little push out of our comfort zone to help us realize that we are capable of more than we ever thought.