The Playground Bully

Ah, the playground bully…and I’m not talking about ‘bully breeds’ here. I’m talking about dogs that pick on others. Sorry for being MIA lately; I’ve been visiting my daughter and her family who recently moved to the Pacific Northwest. It was great seeing them all and we had a great time (FaceTime is only a semi-nice substitute and certainly not the same as an in-person hug and we both needed that).

Aren't I a sweetie?
Aren’t I a sweetie?

Now that they are permanently relocated elsewhere, the once built-in dog sitter thing is history. It used to be, whenever I traveled, Sam romped with my daughter’s two hulking Irish Wolfhounds in the foothills southwest of Denver. Sam absolutely loved chasing after the ‘Big Dogs’ and they seem to enjoy ditching his sorry butt every chance they got, but they all got along wonderfully and I was always grateful that he was well taken care of by family members who loved him as much as I do.

Because of Sam’s hospital work, I’ve been hesitant to have him kenneled but this time it was necessary. It was quite the process interviewing pet/house sitters and various kennels and because I wasn’t exactly wowed by any of the pet/house sitters, I ended up choosing a well-recognized and recommended kennel. When I went to interview the nice folks at The Daily Wag and tour their facility, it was a surprise they were kind of interviewing US! I loved the idea they wanted to make sure Sam would be suitable and fit in with the other pups and they were quite excited that he was a therapy dog. Bottom line, we were approved and I felt confident everything was in place for me to be able to enjoy my travels.

When I dropped Sam off, he totally wigged out–shaking like a leaf and jumping up and wrapping his front paws around my legs like a frightened kindergartener on the first day of school (no Mom, don’t leave me!). This canine travel agent sent me on a major guilt trip. And although I wasn’t able to watch Sam on the online video link, I felt confident all would be cool once I left and he went out to the playground with the other dogs.

So when I went to pick Sam up when I got back to town, boy did my world came to a crashing halt. Oh sure, he was thrilled to see me and I couldn’t help but giggle with the non-stop tail wagging and bouncing up and down like a pogo stick. Even in the car where he normally turns into Flat Stanley, his tail kept up with the vigorous thumpity-thump-thump against the back seat on the ride home. When I asked the staffer how things went, she said, “hmm, mostly good.” Wait, what?! ‘Mostly’…what the hell does that mean??!! Apparently there were a couple of times my little darling Muppet decided the biggest, baddest German Shepherd there was a mortal enemy to be ‘dealt with’ in no uncertain terms. My sweet hound was a playground bully? Gah! I couldn’t believe my ears and she said it surprised them too. When there is any kind of altercation between the dogs, they are immediately separated and put into time-out (i.e. back to their individual kennels,  to ponder the error of their bully ways no doubt). Egad…how embarrassing! Sam, the normally adorably sweet canine concierge and pet therapy prince who regularly greets everyone with a happy wag of the tail whether they are the two or four-legged variety apparently was a playground badass bully.

Talk about a not so pleasant slice of reality! In all fairness, the staffer said she wasn’t sure who started it, but each miscreant goes into time out anyway. Sometimes dogs just give off an energy that affects even the most docile of creatures and that could have been what happened. Sam is not aggressive, that much I definitely know, but I also know that he will not back down from a dog trying to exhibit dominance over him. “Homey” don’t play that game.

When we arrived home, I took Sam on an extra long walk and ran into a neighbor whose recently rescued little ball of fur gave birth to 3 adorable tiny puppies. He was carrying them back into the house in a large laundry basket and the pint size mom popped up to say hi to Sam. He wagged his tail and acted like the dog I know, not that one from the playground who apparently doesn’t like large German Shepherds. It was somewhat reassuring, and I’m guessing that life will go back to being normal again with that nice, fluffy, sweet lap-dog (aka Sam) and not the butt-kicking bully. 🙂

Is your dog a playground bully? How do you handle it?

Live, love, bark <3

19 thoughts on “The Playground Bully

  1. Oh no! We used to have a “playground bully” dog, and he was a little Cocker Spaniel too, so his size really didn’t match his bullying ambitions! We didn’t really come up with a good way to handle it…so usually we just kept him away from other dogs, sad to admit.

  2. I have interviewed a number of boarding facilities (and they interviewed us, as you say) but I never had the heart to drop my dogs there, mainly because, as rescues, they become suspicious and depressed at the sight of cages. So I always opt to pay for someone to stay at our house – the dogs are unhappy at my leaving but understand I will be back. Having said that, Ottie, in his old age, has taken a dislike to other dogs being on “his” walk – funny thing is, he becomes aggressive towards his “sister”, not the other dog we are crossing paths with, as if he were trying to establish his supremacy. He also hates having dogs come to the house and it didn’t use to be so. Then, out and about, at the park or at someone else’s house is an absolute darling.

  3. Abbe and Anne are the most meek little girls you will ever meet until they are around my brother’s black Boston Terrier Mix. They will double team her to keep her off of Mom’s deck, away from me, mom or the door to the house. They aren’t aggressive but more passive aggressive in that they will sit and block her way with with little raised lips and aggressive stances. It has spilled over to the poor black dog that walks past our house now, who I believe they think is her and they go along the fence glaring at her the whole way.

  4. Ah poor Sam. Sometimes a dog will feel stressed in a situation where there are many other dogs, not knowing the dogs and the dynamic of that ‘pack’ could make him feel a wee bit anxious. Glad it was nothing too serious and he is back to his happy, goofball self.

  5. Hahaah oh dear..well neither of my boys like other dogs..long story but they don’t…they have never attacked but just do not like them…urghh but then I laugh because they love peeps sleep with the cats and could care less about the sheep..i had a vet tell me once some dogs just don’t like other dogs..which when I look at myself I think..well I don’t get or like most people hahahah : ) a kennel situation is always a different dynamic who knows…but hey you git extra smooches so 😉 loves Fozziemum xxx

  6. Sam the Badass. As Mcconaughey might say, “All right, all right, all right.” I wonder if the German Shepherd might have been a regular at the dog jail, er, “facility” and might have been pushing Sam as a territorial imperative. You couldn’t blame a Muppet for standing his ground. Sometimes it seems (as you say) that their chemistries simply do not mix and they get ready to scruff it out. Who knows? These are creatures that eat dead squirrels and like it.I’d like to see the Samster and the Wolfhounds running around together. That must be quite a sight. Anyway, absent conclusive evidence I’m taking Sam’s side in the kennel altercations.

  7. Penny has her bouts with being an unintentional bully. As a rambunctious teenage pup who loves to wrestle, she still hasn’t learned that not every dog is as eager to play as she is. We’re working on it, and she’s getting better – “time-outs” definitely help settle her down.

  8. It happens sometimes that Easy turns into the “dogminator” and I have no clue why or what’s wrong with the dogs he dislikes. No matter what gender, size or breed, he probably has a kind of a Rafflecopter inside and picks his enemies randomly :o) That makes it difficult to avoid bad experiences. The only thing I know is, that all Vizsla’s are on his list no idea why … and I thought I could get a photo once of Easy and his hungarian cousins… but probably not on this planet :o)

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