Monday, July 21, 2008

The Diplomat

Theo loves everyone...especially dogs. When we're passing a dog on our walk, Theo lunges forward, nub wagging, impatient to get to the new playmate. A lot of the time the owner then walks out of our way, the obvious signal of an unfriendly dog. Sometimes the little yappy dog starts growling and yipping at Theo as if to say "I could take you on you %@$#!" But Theo just keeps on wagging his nub...keeps on wanting to say hello to the threatening ball of fur. He's never deterred. He loves everyone.

A while ago I talked about Theo's new favorite play buddy, Bailey the Beagle. Well their friendship is still going strong. She's full of energy, she's just the right height for jumping on, and her long ears are just right for munching on...she's perfect! They'll play together for hours. A couple of times we met Bailey playing with a Jack Russell Terrier (I don't look very favorably on the breed from my experiences with them...they're psychotic!), and since the JRT was snarling and snapping at Theo (when they were like 10 feet apart, Theo wasn't in danger or anything), the owner ended up just leaving. I felt bad, but Theo wanted to play with Bailey, so I got over it.

Over the weekend we met up with Bailey and the JRT, Sherlock, again. Theo really wanted to run around, so I was really hoping he could play with Bailey. Sherlock was acting like a punk, but I didn't want to drive them away again. I decided to let Theo try and make a new friend. He approached slowly, nub wagging. He seemed to know that Sherlock wasn't going to be friendly because he didn't try and jump on him, rather he assumed a somewhat submissive posture and started to lick under Sherlock's chin...is that normal? That's what Theo does when he's being submissive. Sherlock decided he still didn't like Theo and started snapping at him again. Theo backed off, Sherlock mellowed, and Theo tried again. This time he got even lower to the ground, put his ears back even more, and tried licking even further under his chin. Sherlock obviously wasn't happy with Theo, but he didn't snap at him either. Progress! Then Theo rolled over on his back in full on submissive posture. Sherlock saw that Theo had no manhood to contend with him, and decided it was acceptable for Theo to be in his presence.

And just like that, they were friends! Ok, not really. But Theo and Bailey could play together without driving Sherlock and his owner away. Everybody wins! Watching this interaction was fascinating! Both Sherlock's owner and I were watching them like a hawk. She was ready to pull Sherlock away if he snapped, and I was ready to pull Theo away his he was too daft to respond to Sherlock's warnings. But it worked out great. He got to play with Bailey and I got to sit and pet Sherlock, who was actually very sweet.

I've noticed that Theo is really great at reading a situation and letting another dog know that he's worthy of sitting at the cool kid's table. He's not submissive all the time. When a dog doesn't show any aggression, he'll usually go right ahead and jump on top of them. It's just one of those traits that you don't think about when you're actually getting a dog (or at least I didn't). A dog not too aggressive and not too submissive is great, but a dog that knows when to be one or the other is even better!

1 comment:

The Senakams said...

Theo is the total diplomat! I tell you, these corgis are smart, they know how to use their brains to overcome the brawn of bigger dogs :) Go Theo!