So far, the low point with Cholula, the point after which I decided to call Kevin Behan for specific advice, came Thanksgiving weekend. We had been feeling good about Cholula—she’d been settling in, getting along fine with Pundit, and even accepting a new dog—my sister-in-law’s lab, just down for the weekend—into the house without incident. Things had been going so well I was feeling more relaxed than I had since we’d gotten her, and didn’t check that the front gate was closed before I let her out the front door, expecting to put her leash on on the front porch before we left the yard.
The gate was open. At the very moment Cholula leapt out the front door, a woman was walking by on the sidewalk in front of our yard with her two small dogs. Tiny dogs. I’m talking about 5 pound dogs. I will still on the porch when the unearthly beastly screams and the woman’s hysterical screams began. The sidewalk is lower than our yard and from the front porch I actually couldn’t see what was going on—when I got down to the sidewalk, the little white dog was lying on her back wailing as if it was about to die and Cholula, already off the dog, was standing on the sidewalk. I grabbed her and pulled her inside and then ran back out.
By then, neighbors had arrived and were comforting the woman, the woman had picked up her dog and was saying she didn’t have a vet, I called my vet, which was about to close but gave me the info for the after hours vet clinic nearby. The woman tried to put down her dog, who howled and collapsed, unable to walk. I panicked. I offered to drive the woman and her dog to the vet. I offered to pay for anything. I offered to do anything I could. I apologized profusely. As the woman calmed down, she noticed that Cholula had bit the dog’s shoulder, said she didn’t see anything else obviously wrong with her dog, said her dog was very dramatic, and that probably it couldn’t walk because the bite on its shoulder was hurting its leg, and that it would probably feel better in the morning. She also said that this little white dog that Cholula had attacked was actually her nightmare aggressive dog (5 pounds of aggression against other dogs, no match for 70 pound Cholula), and that because it always attacks other dogs, she usually picks it up when they approach other dogs. But that of course, with Cholula descending like a flash from the yard, she hadn’t had time. I kept apologizing, explained that I’d recently gotten Cholula from the shelter, kept offering to do anything she wanted me to do. She decided she wanted to wait and see. I gave her all my information, but she didn’t call me. I called her a couple of days later, and she said she had taken the dog to the vet the next day, the vet had prescribed antibiotics to make sure the bites didn’t get infected, and that the dog was doing fine now. She also said that Cholula had bitten through the skin on both shoulders. She refused to let me pay for anything. She was incredibly reasonable. I felt horrible—still feel horrible about it. My husband was ready to return Cholula to the shelter.
I had already re-read Kevin’s dog training book and read the articles on his website, read the training articles on Neil Sattin’s website (who gives me hope because he found natural dog training when he used the methods to solve his adult dog’s dog-aggression problems), and tried to implement the training methods and suggestions there. I was not ready to return Cholula anywhere—she is so lovely with the kids! So appropriate with friends in the house (as long as they are people)! So beautiful! So good with Pundit! We had bonded. But I decided three things (1) For obvious reasons, I now keep her leash in the house and do not let her into the front yard until the leash is on and I am holding it; (2) I now limit her time outside in the backyard without us—I called it putting her on lockdown, because my interpretation of Kevin Behan’s teachings is that she needed to have less recourse to ways to satisfy her energy needs outside of our training, an (3) to pay for a phone consultation with Kevin. I wanted him to give me a specifically tailored program for me and Cholula. I wanted to explain to him my limitations (little time, little kids, urban living), Cholula’s issues, and have him tell me what to do.