Moxie Makes a Friend

They say dogs can sense which people are dog people and which are not, and that dogs are more inclined to accept those people who are dog people.

This rule does not apply to my dog. She has her own rule: male creatures (from humans to chickens) are irritating at best and bad news at worst, while females may be deserving of her affection rather than her teeth. Maybe. No promises.

In general, the world is a dangerous place and her fight-or-flight instinct got super-glued to fight. 

It’s not that Dad or Eli were ever mean to her. Perhaps the fact that they are the alphas in the house upsets her canine instincts, though it doesn’t cause issues with normal dogs. Maybe she just picks up on my cues and knows I’m more comfortable around women. She definitely picked up on my mood when Gram would have a bad day and I let it get to me.

Whatever the cause, we know it would take a miracle for Moxie to let Aiden look at her crosswise, much less touch her, and he is the biggest dog person I know. Despite his best efforts (and occasionally an evening with her settled in a corner in the Cone of Shame because it’s like blinders), Moxie continues to snarl and snap at Aiden while he edges away and tries not to cry. (Heaven forbid he touch Nina.)

And then there are women. We have some friends visiting from down south and the girls (in high school) have stayed at our house a few times this week. While Moxie wasn’t pleased with their presence at the beginning, she spent most of the day today with one of them and decided she liked this girl. Not only did she stop growling in warning when our friend scratched her head, she went the opposite way and started grumbling if that friend stopped touching her.

I don’t understand. We do nothing different when introducing a female as opposed to a male into Moxie’s comfort zone (which is as itty-bitty as Genie’s living space). Everyone is asked to toss her treats. I always hold her collar while she is introduced to the visitor. As the doggy shrink instructed, she is lovingly stroked and massaged in an effort to equate the experience with good things.

Her hackles still rise.

One time, seemingly a fluke, Nina had a friend stay the night and Moxie never noticed. This friend came late at night and I didn’t realize they were sleeping in the living room. Moxie ran downstairs in the morning, checked out the lay-abeds, and gave the visitor a quick lick before heading for the door.

We haven’t dared to try that again.

Out in the world, she has stopped lunging at every person she sees. (I think I told you about our excursion to City Forest a couple of months ago.) At home, however, things remain pretty much the same.

Except now she has a new friend, bringing the number up to…7?…acceptable humans beings.

Even though that friend will soon head home, it gives me hope for my dog’s social health.

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