What is your dog afraid of?

Me, scared? Nah. When I first came home to live with my mom and could practically fit in her hand, she said I was the most fearless little dog that she had known. I would explore nooks and crannies on my own. I was curious about every sight, sound and smell. I would run eagerly up to strangers and try to make friends, including pesky cats and squirrels. Even the rumbling of thunder and setting off of fireworks ddn’t faze me, because Mom always held and stroked me, all the while saying, “It’s okay, Lola, it’s okay.”

Now, however, aas I approach my first birthday, some things do spook me and I’m more cautious when experiencing new and strange encounters. I no longer run up excitedly to people I don’t know, nor do I like them coming  and petting me. Even Mom says, “Tsk, why can’t they ask for permission first?”

Uncle W (Mom’s dog trainer brother) says it’s all quite natural as I grow up.  Apparently as dogs mature, they do become more discerning and cautious. So I’m right to suss someone out first to make sure they’re friendly and mean me no harm. It takes me a while to warm up to people now, before I allow them to pet  or stroke me.

I think Uncle W’s labrador, Tar, is really brave. He came all the way from the Netherlands when he was a puppy. That airplane ride must have been terrifying for him but he made it in one piece. He’s being trained as a search and rescue dog, going into the jungles with Uncle W every weekend for training. He’s already taken part in a search rescue effort to look for a missing girl. He’s a hero in my eyes.

He and Uncle W have completed the first part of their certification and are now moving on to training in rubble areas. That’s so cool. So I was quite amazed to hear Uncel W say that Tar has a phobia about lightning and thunder. He has to spend time with the lab to quieten him down with a favorite toy (his preferred treat instead of food) every time there’s a thunderstorm. So there’s no telling what even a big, brave dog can be afraid of.

Maybe Uncle W needs to get an anxiety vest or thunder jacket for Tar, to calm him down. But then, he might not look so cool. (link to Lazada)

My mom says that I know no fear because I’ve had an uneventful, cosseted life from the beginning. I haven’t been abused (humph, what about the rolled up newspaper, Mom?) or been chased out onto the streets, having to fend for myself. I’ve never gone hungry or hounded by other dogs. Basically I haven’t wanted for anything.  Now my friend, Jamie, who’s a mixed breed pup who’s been adopted by Uncle R, is a rescue who’s been with him for a few months but is still frightened of a lot of things.

Every time I visit Uncle R, Jamie and I play together out in the garden, but while I love to be around my humans, Jamie is scared of them. She won’t talk much about her past but I gather that she’s a classic case of an abused dog. After a few months of gentle coaxing, Uncle R is only able now to stroke Jamie but through a protective barrier. Otherwise Jamie just runs away from him. He hasn’t been able to give her bath yet, although she’ll take treats from his hand. Progress has been made but it’s reaaally slow.

Because she won’t allow human contact, Jamie sleeps out in the garden by herself at night. She wreaks havoc there, tearing up anything she can lay her paws on, from shoes to clothes and toys. She has also dug up innumerable holes in the garden. Uncle R used to fill them up but has since given up because Jamie just won’t stop digging. I guess she has internal demons to deal with and compensates by being destructive. Otherwise she has the sweetest, gentlest demeanor.

Uncle W says it’s a good thing that I’m generally a confident dog, because scared and nervous dogs are harder to train. I suppose that’s true, especially in the case of Jamie. Uncle R says he’s been tempted to give up but nevertheless, he persists with Jamie. She is grateful that she now has a home in which she doesn’t have to worry about food or shelter, or being abused by other dogs and humans. She told me that once when the gate was left open, she ran out. But once she was on the street and realized what a big, bad world was out there, she quickly trotted back home herself. Whew!

I’m quite chuffed when Mom says I’m her brave girl, but can I tell you a secret? There are a couple of things I am afraid of. While thunder doesn’t scare me, I don’t like sudden sounds near me, like the backfiring of a car or a loud motorbike whizzing past. I also don’t like the piling sounds of consttruction sites if we happen to pass any. It’s good that Mom is always with me when those things happen and she reaasures me that there’s nothing to be afraid of.

Oh, and there’s another thing. I don’t like moving reflections, especially at night. If I catch a glimpse of myself on the TV monitor or glass screen door, it kind of spooks me. The first time it happened, Mom was watching Game of Thrones, so she thought its was the dragons or the ominous music, but actually it was my own reflection that scared me.

Same thing with shadows. At certain times of the day when the sun casts long shadows, I think that my own shadow is some big, bad dog and that freaks me out. It’s even scarier at night when we come home and Mom wants me to go potty out in the courtyard. The streetlamps also cast long shadows, and they are very intimidating. Mom knows, of course, and laughs, telling me I’m just being a silly girl. So I do my business as fast as I can and and drag her off her feet.  “I’m all done, Mom. Let’s go home, okay? Come on, Mom!”

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