(October-Early November, 2013) The Alpha Male came early the next morning with a bowl of food and water. I ate hungrily, lapped up all the water, and was let let out into a dog run in the large backyard. Several other dogs, some my size, others much larger, were already out there.
I walked warily around, sniffing, ready to mix it up, if need be. But the other dogs weren’t looking for a fight. Everyone did their business, and we were herded back inside the house. We were crated, then brought out to work, first individually, then in groups.
I was with a pack of large dogs and huge German Shepherd police training dogs. These shepherds were half my age and twice my size already! I figured I’d better watch my step and keep my hair down.
From that day on it was work, work, work. Sit. Stay. Heel. About turn. Back. Down. Recall. Figure 8. Finish. All the commands I had learned in Obedience school, over and over and over. Then bang! Into the crate, another biscuit, and lights out. Mom still did not come to get me. I knew I’d been booted out for good. I was devastated, but felt the need to survive.
Soon, other elements were added to my days of never-ending training: invited to jump on the couch or counter, I was then met with a loud noise and a sharp, “Off!” This applied to chairs and the beds, too.
Sneakily, I decided to chew through my lead (the Alpha had switched it from the leather one to my regular, nylon one) but was unpleasantly surprised to find that it tasted indescribably awful! The Alpha had sprayed it with “Bitter Apple”. Yuck! What was worse, if I jumped repeatedly, or tried the old “Hairy Bullet” on the Alpha, he sprayed the noxious stuff into my mouth. Horrible! I soon straightened out in regards to chewing and Hairy Bullet-ing.
It wasn’t all bad, though. My crate was actually my respite from all the other dogs. And exercise time was my favorite. The Alpha Male would hold a long plastic pole with a bit of fur connected to the end, and swing it all around. We dogs would jump and run and grab for that pole with our jaws, and then hang on for dear life! It was a lot of fun. I really got into good shape, too. That playtime was a terrific stress reliever after working so hard all day long.
But I was lonely. There was no soft dog bed. No table scraps (in fact, he only fed me once, in the morning). No Jamie to say, “Hi, Mags!” in that sweet voice he uses. No Dad to greet when he comes home at darktime. And no Mom to curl up with on the human bed, her hand draping over my belly, cooing soft words if I twitched or stirred in the night. I told myself I had to get over it, that those days were gone forever. This was life at bootcamp.
* * * *
By now, you’ve probably read, “The Homecoming” and you know that my family DID come get me. And not just Mom or Jamie…the whole family came out to retrieve me. I’d just like to say a few words about this whole experience.
I never want to go through this again!
At home, life IS different now. Much more regimented. I sleep in the crate. I eat once a day. And several times a day, Mom or Jamie or both work with me on commands. Dad is putting an exercise pole like the one Daryl had together for me so I can get constructive play in the backyard.
Also, they are going to tether me with a 30 foot-long lead in the back so that if I DO smell a rabbit, I WON’T bolt through the fence. That is, unless they make me a dog run. Mom thinks I’ll have more yard if we use the tether. I will not be left out all day, just for those times when I want to spend some time outdoors. When I’m supervised, I’ll be able to run around freely.
Laurel still comes and gives me walks. She stopped by the morning after I came home to say hello, give me a couple pets, and go over commands with Mom. So all my instructions will be consistent.
I haven’t barked once at the small dogs. Mom wants us to officially sniff n’ greet in the Forest Preserve. I do try to jump on the furniture, and today Mom had to spray the Bitter Apple in my mouth when I tried to destroy a new dog bed. We are all working on my behavior together.
I was very unhappy to find out that 4 Paws Playhouse, the doggie day care that Mom wanted to send me to, has right on their website: “No American Staffordshire Terriers, Pit Bulls, or Akita type dogs are allowed.” We are all very upset about this Breed Discrimination. I don’t know how people expect dogs like me to get socialized if we are not given an opportunity to socialize. Kind of like needing experience to get a job, but no job will hire you to give you the experience you need (in human terms). It’s frustrating.
I’m pretty sure I’ve gotten all caught up on the blogging I’ve missed. You have all had some wonderful blogs, and I’ve missed all of you dreadfully. You are my WP family, and when I say, “Woof!” I mean it. Sending each and every one of you a big tail wag, and a dogsmile. I’m so happy to be back!