Our Sweet and Crazy Coonhound ...

Our Sweet and Crazy Coonhound ...
Run Free: birthdate unknown - Oct. 17 2008

Monday, June 30, 2008

The Ham Salad Incident

Booker's doppelganger, CRAZY-CUJO-DEMON, reared his ugly, aggressive head this weekend.

I am in the bathroom, getting ready to go out to dinner, and I hear David saying sternly, "Release. Release. Release. Give it. No, Booker. Release."

Booker was braced on his cushion, in our bedroom, with a deli clamshell
from the garbage. The remnants of deli ham salad in the corners. This was absolutely a "score" ... doggie scavenged treasure. Booker was not giving it up. Forget release. Forget give. No way on the "no." Booker was bearing his teeth and growling. I envisioned blood. It wasn't pretty.

"KENNEL," I shouted, probably not the right command, but I was shaking. The Doppelganger frightened me. Booker beelined for his kennel, with
the ham salad container clenched between his teeth. I slammed the kennel door closed and Booker attacked the wire. I was terrified. And angry. I was trembling. Disappointed.

I am H-Mom. What was this all about? Booker was growling menacingly at me. He is MY dog ... My shadow ... My "good boy!"

A serious lesson.

When you rescue a dog, you are taking on all of his baggage. Booker has food aggression ISSUES (no lower case here) and we know this. We are making progress, but he will probably always have issues. He may have been starved, abused, left to fight with a pack for his food. We have gotten past the food bowl guarding and turned dinner time into a friendly interchange. We control the food and we are kind, giving and generous. But a real delicacy, knabbed from the garbage? All bets are off.

The thing is, this was really my fault. I left the garbage bag, untied and half-full, on the floor in the kitchen, leaning against the can. It was ready to take down the hall to the trash shoot. And then I got into the shower. As Samantha has so astutely observed, Booker is an opportunist. Put out bait he will take it. And then, as we have seen, it is his.

If Booker had been picked up by animal control or dropped off at a shelter, he would have failed the food aggression test. He would have mangled that dummy hand. I do not doubt for a minute that he would bite and gravely injure to protect his food. He probably would have been euthanized as unadoptable. Because he came through a breed-specific rescue, he has slipped through the rigorous adoptability testing and landed in our lives.

And we love him. There are so many wonderful things about him, incredible calm, noble temperament, patient demeanor, quiet devotion ... the list is already, after five months, long.

There is no option but to work with this. And diligently create an environment where we avoid these confrontations. If he gets something he shouldn't have, we have to remember, in that adrenalin-filled "NO" moment, that we have to approach Booker calmly, engineer a TRADE. We will be able to gradually, very, very gradually, quash the doppelganger.


River said...

My mom admires your willingness to work with this. So few people do. We had a basset/beagle who stole a package of steaks (NY strip no less) and he would have taken off a hand before giving it up. No choice. He got to keep it. Otherwise, he was a good dog. Your plan for the future sounds good but oh, how you need patience! Lots of love and patience and Booker is obviously worth it. (although, as my mom notes, she has put on oven mits to get food away from us...)

love & wags,

Joe Stains said...

you are totally pawesome for working with him on this. I can't imagine having to fight for my food and I feel bad for the poor guy. good job on being patient and for rescuing him.

Maggie & Mitch said...

This is one tough situation! Bravo! You handled that issue well! We can see that this takes a lot of patience and a lot of love!

Love ya lots
Maggie and Mitch

BrandytheGreat said...

Great job for trying to solve the poor guy's problem! Glad that Booker was rescued in the first place!

Kess & Her Mama said...

Hey, when it comes to food, we doggies don't want to let go, esp if it's something as delicious as ham! Mum has to be super careful not to leave food or garbage where I can reach it too. I think it's great that you have rescued Booker and are slowly working through these issues.

River said...

Beautiful new picture, love it! Booker in all his majesty.

love & wags,

Kathryn and Ari said...

Poor Booker. Moments like this one are such powerful reminders of how deeply we humans can affect dogs, and how long dogs carry those scars. Booker is very lucky to have such loving, understanding humans in his life: with such love and positive reinforcement, you all can accomplish anything!

Mr. T-Bone Beasley said...

Booker sounds super smart! If my human left the garbage out, I woulda grabbed whatever I could as quickly as I could!

I hope he remembers that he has as much food as he wants the next time he goes after the garbage and gets super angry...

Mr. T-Bone Beasley