Kekoa is a quirky dog. I mean, all pets (and people, now that I think of it) are quirky in their own way, but she’s quirky in that extra-special “I’ve been down a bit of a cobbly path these last few years and my insecurity is showing through.”
After a year and a half, I thought some of those behaviors might mellow with time but if anything, they’re gotten worse. It’s nothing destructive, nothing I can’t handle. Just definitive behaviors that I haven’t found the time or inclination to get to the bottom of, so we just deal.
1. The separation anxiety. When I leave, she howls. This is all hearsay, since of course I am never around to hear it. When I’m home and someone else leaves, she doesn’t care a bit. I experimented with leaving Brody with her, leaving him outside, leaving my husband at home, nothing helps. Except me.
There are ways to deal with separation anxiety, from desensitization and counterconditioning to Thundershirts and Reconcile. I have all of these tools floating about. I just don’t ever get around to using them, because it obviously never bothers me.
My husband has informed me that Brody, instead of exuding a calming and distracting demeanor, has now taken to barking too. So now instead of chewing up toys when I leave he just howls a bit. That did not really go according to plan.
Current solution: Usually when I leave I give them a distraction like a Kong or a puzzle ball. As long as it’s a really good treat, it does the trick. They’ve gotten so used to it that part of me suspects when I forget and Brody howls, it’s not because he’s sad I’m leaving, but that I’m leaving and I forgot to give him his treat.
2. The pee monitor. At her last home, Kekoa spent most of her time outside. Most of that time, in turn, was spent howling and/or barking. This is the reason she wound up back in rescue, incidentally.
It’s not a problem here since the only time she goes outside is to go to the bathroom, and what short time she spends out there is mostly spent thinking about coming back in. If she really has to go, she’ll tear across the yard and do her thing, but the rest of the time, when it’s just a regularly scheduled potty break, she walks outside 3 feet, turns and sits down and waits for me to let her back in.
Current solution: The only way to get her to go when she really doesn’t want to is to accompany her out past the patio onto the grassy area. Then stand there, gesture to the grass, and say, “Potty, Koa. Koa, potty. Potty…….Potty. Koa…..Koa…..Potty” ad nauseum like an introduction gone bad until she relents and finally goes.
It’s not a big deal, unless it’s either raining out or I’m in a hurry, in which case it’s kind of a pain in the butt. My husband lacks the patience, so he never follows her out. My kids, who usually get up before me and have inherited the job of opening the back door in the morning, are up to the task, but being 6 and 5 have not mastered the voice projection appropriate for 6:30 in the morning on a Saturday.
KOA! POTTY! GO POTTY KOA! KOA! KOA! KOAKOAKOA! POTTTAAAAYYYYY!!!!
We live in kind of a hilly area with acoustics to rival the Hollywood Bowl, too, so when they do that it echoes off the hill, through our yard, and presumably through the shuttered window of every sleepy house in the neighborhood. Maybe that’s the real reason our neighbors bailed last month.
I don’t call these behavioral problems, at least in my eye, in the sense that they are not disruptive behaviors I feel a need to change. (At least so far as Koa goes. I’m still working on the kids.) Hers are very specifically quirks, idiosyncrasies that we have accepted and have worked around in a way everyone finds livable. Getting a little wet and cold every now and then during an unanticipated 11 pm potty break is a small price to pay for a dog whose has one other little quirk:
Her entire purpose in life is to worship at the altar of me. She follows me from room to room like an adoring acolyte, warming my face with her breath, bathing my feet with her tongue whether I like it or not. She stares at me like she is willing me into permanence. Basically, I am Robert Pattinson and she is every Twihard who ever lived. Like most celebrities, I am puzzled by this undeserved adoration yet strangely flattered. So thank you, Koa. You can be as goofy as you want in this house.
I know a lot of you have pets with some funny or poignant quirks. Let’s hear em!