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