Blessed Be Nosey Neighbours

The other day I looked up from rewarding Shiva for good behaviour to see a gigantic Rottweiler bounding toward us at full speed. Tongue-flopping and eyes bright, he drove hard across several lawns with only one thing on his mind. There was nothing I could do to avoid the onslaught so I just stood there thinking “here we go again.”

The Rottweiler dog was a sweetheart. (Actually, all the canines-on-the-lamb we’ve met have been really well-socialised, including a large pit-bull type (gasp, shock, horror). This shouldn’t surprise me given these dogs’ proclivities for busting out, but it always does. The way the media portrays free roaming dogs probably has something to do with that.) He was just a sweetheart that didn’t know when it was time to move on. I tried getting him to sit with no success. I tried luring him away with food, but he just wasn’t interested. Shiva could only put up with his advances for so long. After about the third time he tried to mount her, she was just about done. I couldn’t blame her.

I always struggle with the proper way to handle these situations. Do I continue on with my walk and hope the strange dog will take the hint and return from whence she came? Do I instead head home and try to find out where the dog lives from there? So far I’ve never seen a tag with a phone number on any of these dogs, just the typical city license. That would solve the problem a lot faster.

“That’s not my dog!” a voice shouted as I tried to figure out what to do.

I turned around to face the woman who owned the house behind us. Before the shout, I’d had no idea she was even there. Trying to be polite, I asked her if she did know where the dog lived.

“No! And it’s not mine!”

Okay, then. Sheesh.

So I made the choice to walk down the road Rottweiler came from. Luckily, there was another neighbour sticking her head out to watch the entertaining scene of a gigantic dog trying to hump a skinny, spotted dog as they walked down the street. This woman was much more helpful and actually suggested I try a yellow house as she knows their dog is always getting out. Shrugging, I followed her instructions but it took a few knocks on the door before anyone answered.

When the door did open, I was surprised to see a frail woman over at least eighty standing behind it. She had a small Peekapoo on leash that was barking away furiously.

“Hi, um, is this your dog?” I pointed at the Rottweiler currently doing unclean things to the rear end of my dog.

The woman seemed confused at first. I had to repeat the question several times before she understood.

“Oh!” she said. “That’s Bruno. Did he get out again? Oh dear, Bruno.”

At her dismayed look, I turned around to rescue poor Shiva who had perched up on the step beside me. At this point I actually had to pick up his front legs and unwrap them from around her. Shiva was so patient it was amazing.

Obviously Bruno has received very little training in his young. He didn’t even respond to his name when we attempted to call him back into the house. Not even a flicker of recognition passed through his eyes. It was obvious the woman wasn’t capabale of dragging him in on her own. Since I didn’t want to let Shiva into her house – who knows what she’d get into, or how well the little dog would respond – I tried to help her while also holding on to my leash. That also wasn’t working.

It’s times like these where all the time and money we have put in to teaching Shiva pays off. I put her in a sit-stay and quickly threw the end of the leash over the railing of the porch. Then, and only then, was I able to take Bruno by the collar and kind of pull/nudge him inside. The dog may not have any formal training, but he handles incredibly well. In another life, I may have offered to take him off this woman’s hands.

The woman thanked me for my help and went back inside. I then waved to the neighbour across the street who had remained outside to watch the episode. If not for her taking the time to stick her nose in my business, I may have ended up with a new dog on my couch. The cat owes her a thank-you card. 

Of course, however, the real star of the day was Shiva. With her newfound patience and wisdom, she handled the situation with unbelievable self-possession. She seems to be aware that there is a time and a place for everything: times when she can get away with being a wacked-out clown, and times when she decides it’s better to reign it all in. Proving once again that Shiva is a better trainer than I will ever be.