Goodness knows that when you live with a quirky, special needs dog, you need all the hope you can get!! It can get discouraging to always have to tackle new challenging behaviors or re-visit old ones that just don’t seem to want to go away. For many special needs dogs, this is just a way of life with them, and weird issues will continue to rear their ugly heads from time to time.
Sometimes, when I find myself feeling discouraged when Rugby has hit an especially rough patch of behavior, I try to focus on things that he does which are simply just endearing. All dogs have good and bad behavior at times. That’s normal and to be expected. It’s just that when the rough times hit, sometimes, those rough patches can be scary or overwhelming, and we need to focus on good things to offset those difficult moments!
Rugby is a herder with great skill and ability. He practices this skill on a daily basis, and has become very proficient in tripping us with polka dottie piggies! This is something that is of great annoyance, but also very endearing about him, in part, because we know how much his little piggies mean to him.
Part of what makes this behavior endearing to me is that he seems to have chosen very specific times where he really feels it necessary to produce this behavior:
- Every time I come home, I am greeted by a little dog who happily grunts his piggie and herds me to my office the minute I walk through the door.
- When I do laundry, Rugby herds me from the bedroom to the utility room, and pins me to the washer while I start a load of laundry. He joyfully grunts his piggie against the backs of my legs while I do this chore, which always makes me smile!
- He enjoys doing the same behavior to Michael when he cooks, pinning him to the stove, grunting his piggie against him the entire time!
- I often eat at my office desk when I am working at home, and any time Michael brings me a snack or meal at my desk, Rugby is busily herding him there….grunting a piggie against him from the kitchen to my office.
And of course, there are the odd times when Rugby herds us as well, but the above mentioned herding sessions are very consistent and daily. It’s not at all uncommon to hear someone saying, “RUGBY!! Let. Me. Walk!” on a daily basis….sometimes multiple times a day!! And then it’s followed with sounds of exasperation and also giggles! He’s absolutely relentless with this job, and he takes his job seriously!
On the one hand, it really is dangerous behavior. It would be one thing if Rugby would be good at keeping his piggies behind our legs, but he’s not. Oh that’s where it starts, alright, but as we walk, he sticks his piggie between our legs and places it against the fronts of our ankles or shins…from behind us….creating a wonderful tripping hazard! I don’t think either one of us has ever actually fallen, but we’ve managed some crazy dance steps from time to time, that’s for sure!
What’s so funny about this, is that Rugby generally starts herding us at our ankles, and moves up our legs as he herds…trying to get our attention….like we could ignore a small dog jamming a grunting polka dottie piggie into us…over and over and over and over and ov….well…you get the idea! Rugby starts at our ankles, and ends up at our knees or thighs!
Last weekend, I was doing a load of laundry, and he started with his normal piggie behavior against my legs. He moved his piggie up to my knees, jammed it between them, and left it while he went to check on his Daddy for a few seconds. It wasn’t long, and I was still laughing when he came back and got his piggie right where he had left it, almost as if he had just parked it there for a short time so that he would know where to find it! That’s absolutely a true story, and how I wish I had somehow been able to capture it on a video!! It’s not likely to happen again, and it was so very funny that I still laugh out loud when I think about it!
Here’s the message for you if you live with a special needs dog: Remembering your dog’s endearing qualities will get you through rough spots when you are frustrated and ready to give up or give in. Think of the wonderful, silly or snuggly things that your dog does that just makes you laugh or melts your heart.
When you think about it….we all have our own weird little idiosyncrasies….those odd little things that are peculiar and which make us unique and unlike someone else. When you think about it….our special needs dogs are one of a kind! And that’s a reason to smile too!