This last Saturday the Mr and I brough a new addition into our home. We have been looking for over a year for a companion dog for Tank. Tank is a dogs dog, he loves dogs, he loves the pack, when we go to the dog park he’ll abandon me and go walk with anyone with more than 2 dogs. It was hard finding a dog though. I knew what I needed and what would work. We needed a dog who could play rough and was tough enough to give it back to Tank. I needed one that was not to sensitive because Tank can be a moose and will step on you or trip over you or sit on you. I needed a youngish dog that could match his energy but would also be able to entertain themselves.
This ruled out all golden retrievers (for some reason we have never met a golden retriever that has liked Tank AT ALL), labs (because they are sensitive and get bity when Tank is too rough), cattle dogs or mixes (because though Tank loves to be herded he doesn’t like them nipping him in the butt constantly and cattle dogs never give up), german shepherds (because they all bark in his face without stopping – at least the ones we have met – and that really drives Tank up the wall without fail) and many of the small to medium size dogs. It was a LONG search. I also wanted a dog that would help me. Tank is great, he’s my baby face, but he can’t be off leash around the live stock, we have only recently used him to flush the turkeys out of the blackberry bushes but he’s not trust worthy with them. If they couldn’t fly we’d never use him for that. I wanted a dog that I could take herding classes with, that I could send out to bring in the sheep, goats, geese, and turkeys.
Fate brought us to Kodiak. See, I found an Australian shepherd/great dane mix at an independent shelter in Portland. We went there and the lobby was packed. You had to sign in for the dog you wanted to see and wait. and wait, and wait some more. There was a couple before us who were there for the same dog and they ended up adopting him before we could even see him. Good for them. He was pretty but also very skinny and apparently he bit someone which wasn’t listed on the petfinder so I’m honestly glad I didn’t have to worry about that.
We left the shelter and on a whim went to the Oregon Humane Society. Kodiak had just been returned that morning. His previous adopters didn’t understand he is a 6 month old puppy and hasn’t learned all the dog rules yet (like when to stop chewing on someone’s face). He’s perfect for Tank though. Kodiak is smart, rough, tough, and submissive which is all great. He’s not super submissive (because I can’t stand that) but he’ll give way to Tank. Tank isn’t super dominant but he’s a mastiff and thus can be a little serious sometimes.
The boys are in love. They have been chewing on each other for the last 2 days. Kodiak has learned how to walk on his gentle leader today and he’s just about learned how to sit and lay down on command. I’m so impressed because Tank only listens 8 out of 10 times.
I have to say that I am the biggest supporter of gentle leaders. The Mr brought one home when we first adopted Tank and I have to admit I was skeptical at first. Tank is a super ridiculously strong dog and if you hook the leash up to his collar he’ll drag you down the sidewalk. Put on his gentle leader though and he’ll instantly heel and keep an easy pace. Kodiak, like Tank, went a little insane when I first put it on but then forgot all about it. It’s super nice because the slightest correction has a huge effect. Kodiak and Tank walked perfectly. The only trouble I had with them (beyond figuring out to put Kodiak on the outside of Tank so I wouldn’t kick him when I walked) was other dogs – actually SMALL itty bitty dogs – on leashes. I can’t tell if he wants to play or he thinks they are trouble. Either way it only means that I know what we have to work on and I believe he’ll ignore them soon just as Tank does.
Kodiak had a huge hissy fit today but I think it was my fault. He went all crazy teeth and sharp puppy claws on me but I made him say laying down till he gave up. I probably wouldn’t have been able to do this before I got Tank. I wouldn’t have had the patience, I would have gotten upset. Instead I held him down till he relaxed and realized he wasn’t going anywhere until he was done. I realized how much I’d grown as a dog owner when he had my hand in his mouth and threatened to bite me that I didn’t believe him, I knew he was bluffing and I knew to keep my cool. The whole moment was over in less than two minutes and then we finished our walk. We will have to work on ignoring other dogs while on leash. I don’t believe in letting my dogs great anyone on leash, especially other dogs. Leashes restrict the ability to flee if dogs feel threatened and can make them aggressive, I never take that chance, and frankly, everyone who comments on how beautiful Tank is doesn’t need to pet him though I appreciate the comments.
We passed a guy with what looked like a boxer mix who was straining at the end of his choke chain to try to meet us. This sight really made me think about learning who your dog is and really training them and really taking the time to instill good habits. I used to use choke chains when I owned english bulldogs but I doubt I would ever use one ever again. The gentle leader has been a life changer. I get why people use choke chains but I will never understand prong collars. Its not that they looked painful (which I’m sure they are) but I’ve never seen any dog actually respond to one. Have you? Seriously, the dogs with prong collars are lunging at the end of their leash while being choked and stabbed by their own collar and they couldn’t care less. Prong collars are for dog owners that are desperate and who have given up. I get that and I get how hard it is when you have a strong dog that doesn’t do what you need them to.
I believe if these people tried a gentle leader first they’d be amazed and it would save both dog and owner copious amounts of frustration.
*gets off her soap box*
So yeah, we got a puppy and Tank and he are in love. He’s a Tervuren Shepherd and as soon as he get’s his basic manners down pat we are going to enroll in sheep herding classes together. I’m really excited about that!