A Year with Zu

Brooke here.  It’s raining and nasty and I can’t get back out under the Japanese maple, so this is another post about dogs.

The American Fauxberman (say it out loud); alternately, the German Short-haired Notweiller

Zu has been with us for a year. He’s decidedly not a Rottweiler and is not quite a Doberman, and there’s something sort of Shepard-y about his face.  He’s certainly a snugglet, though.  His happiest place is on the couch, either cuddling with us or draped over the back, like a smelly, drooling headrest.

After his behavioral speedbump in the summer, he is well on his way to being a good dog.  His anxiety has decreased to a point where he enjoys walks and casual socialization with strange dogs and people, and if a correction with the prong collar is needed, it’s almost always minimal.  We’ve been doing cruises of the big local park with Mary and her dog, Clover, every weekend or so; somehow, a few weeks back, we ended up in the middle of an offroad bike race and he did splendidly while Schwinns poured down around us like rain.  In his classes, we’ve moved on to fetch and other forms of operant conditioning.  I’m thinking of taking him through competition-level training, because (a) he’s smart enough and (b) it might be helpful for people who have dogs with serious behavior problems to see that it might be possible to work through it.

(Aside: It’s strange… it’s pouring rain and windy, but my office is gradually becoming more and more bright; the wind is stripping the leaves off of the trees and the difference in light after each gust could probably be outright quantified by scientific doohickies.)

Zu is what is called a “busy” dog.  He is constantly alert and investigating.  It’s possible that this personality quick is one of the causes of his anxiety, since everything has to be sniffed or poked or tasted or barked at to see if it moves.  Even if he knows what it is, there’s a chance it has changed since the last time it was investigated.  I think if he were employed as a guard dog, he would be a spectacular guard dog for about a week and would after that be a spectacular skeleton due to an irresolvable imbalance in calories consumed to energy expended.  He gets a minimum of three miles’ walk each day, five days a week.  The other two days are when I chuck him into doggy daycare, which our vet said were a must to maintain Old Dog’s health with completely puppy-free days (and I now think are a must because that’s when I get almost all of my uninterrupted writing done instead of banging out a paragraph and then dealing with *crash*thud*rip*rip*smash*spit out my underwear, dammit!).

Besides this, and my need to lie to Brown about why he has no more matched pairs of socks*, Zu’s done quite well for himself.  Another year of training to pare down the rest of the anxiety, and he’ll be a fluffy little champ.  I am hoping his inquisitive nature slacks off a little, though; I’m tired of having to hunt for my shoes.

*I think he knows.


2 thoughts on “A Year with Zu

  1. Mine didn’t really stop dismantling things until he was 7. Admittedly he is the only four legged creature I know with critical thinking skills. When he looks at something I swear I can hear the hamsters running on the wheels in his brain. There was a long while where I would make puzzle boxes (nested cardboard boxes laced with treats and duct taped shut) for him to tear apart while I was gone.

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