Ron and I have always had large-breed dogs, but the last week of Cheyenne's life convinced me that while I can still run up and down stairs (they're everywhere in this house!) I can no longer do it carrying 100 pounds of dog. So my neighbor's offer of a small dog seemed like such a good idea.
Wow. It's amazing how wrong you can be about something and still fight to turn it into a positive.
In the house, Claire is a dog-owner's dream. She loves Ron and sits on the sofa or in the recliner with him and doesn't care what he watches on television. Unlike me, who has had enough of CNN, and all the election experts, and what I fondly call The Bug Channels. The programs don't really have to be about bugs, but they're usually on National Geographic or similar channels, and feature little known facts about things natural or scientific. I tend to think they're little known facts because no one cares about them, but Ron is interested in everything, so he cares. And, apparently. so does Claire.
She's made friends with the two tabbies who also live here because they also protect us from tiny critters and she considers them part of her staff.
She loves to sit on the back of the sofa and look out the window. She doesn't bother me while I'm working, eats whatever you give her, and wags her little tail all the time.
But the minute we leave the house, she turns into twenty pounds of albino psycho. She runs down the front steps with a growl in her throat to let the neighborhood know she's on duty. She wants to attack everything she sees - big dogs, little dogs, low-flying birds, big insects, and certain people. I never know who. I fully expect to end up in the ER one day with a Pit Bull attached to my face because she attacked it. The leisurely walks Cheyenne and I had, enjoying our gorgeous views, she sniffing the grass to learn what other dogs had passed, and me, meditating and plotting, are a thing of the past. Now my walks are a matter of survival.
Fortunately, I've walked around here so long that I know every trail and back alley and can avoid confrontation if Claire doesn't see them coming first. If she does, I have to drag her behind me or pick her up to keep going while she barks in angry detail about what she'd do to them if she could only get there. I'd hire a doggie shrink for her, but I'd need one first.
The moment we're home, she morphs back into the perfect family dog. I hear you asking why I don't just put her out in the yard rather than walk her. Firstly, she barks at everything that moves so our lovely neighbors would soon hate us, and, despite her killer instincts, her size makes her vulnerable to the racoons that travel in packs, and the eagles that fly over on their way to fish the river.
Living with her reminds me of how I felt when my oldest son was about 12. I didn't think I'd survive him, but now he's a fine citizen with a lovely wife, a thriving business, and loving concern for Ron and me. So, maybe there's hope for Claire.
On the good side, adversity usually has a positive effect on us. I'm determined to solve this problem, and though research seems to indicate that terriers are hard wired to be aggressive because they were bred to catch rats, mice and other critters, there has to be a way to teach her the difference between what's a threat and what isn't. So, it's made me study, taught me even more patience than my life already requires, and to remember that everyone and everything that crosses our path in life has something to teach us.
In researching, I ran across a term that explains small dog behavior, and now, of course, can't find it. As I recall, the term means they have an inability to see themselves in relation to the rest of the world. In other words, they have no idea they're small because inside, they're giants. Isn't that an attitude we can all get behind? Fear nothing! Even though your legs are only three inches long, nothing is too big to take on because you feel invincible. Act tough. Look scary. Pull like the lead dog in an Iditarod because your job is vigilance and you're excited to do it well.