Brave Dog Huff


Huff has been wanting to share this story for a while since it shows how brave he is. But being a humble dog he can’t tell the story himself, so he’s asked me to step in today and tell this one.

Like many of us, Huff has had some bad experiences in his life. Some of them involved other dogs. I don’t have all the details because he hasn’t shared that with me and it would be rude of me to pry.

So our walks can be wonderful or exhausting. We might commune with nature and enjoy a relaxing uplifting experience, good for both our bodies and souls. Or our walk could be a scary, panic-inducing experience. It all depends on who we meet along the way.

An old dog who isn’t interested in us is perfectly fine with Huff. He keeps a wary eye on them just in case something changes but we go on with our walk and they go on with theirs.  No sniff, no foul.

A younger active dog who wants to “play” sets off all of Huff’s warning bells and whistles.  

Once set off, the remainder of our walk is a pain. Literally. He weaves in front of me and gets stepped on. Ouch his aching feet! He jerks on the lead. Ouch my aching shoulder! He is in panic mode. We are not having fun anymore. We simply need to get through it. 

Our first walks through the neighborhood were fraught with danger for Huff. He didn’t know who was where or who might jump out at him. He was looking anxiously around each hedge and fence, just in case some dog was lurking, ready to pounce. I admit, he had me on watch too.  

I helped him watch out for other dogs. I talked with the humans whose dogs he did not want to allow close. Fortunately my neighbors were understanding and we work together now to keep them apart.  It took time, but gradually Huff began to feel safer. He learned that he could count on me to keep the other dogs away. He trusted me not to yell at him because he wasn’t “friendly.” He accepted that I was on his side.

Huff began to walk with more this-is-my-neighborhood confidence and less grim I-can-survive-this determination. Our pack was solidifying. We were bonding.

He was getting braver each day. Then it happened.  We were almost home after a nice walk, when the crazy hyper-active dog next door was running loose. No owners in sight. Uh-oh.

In Crazy Dog’s defense, he didn’t get much attention from his owners and spent a lot of time confined in a small portion of the yard by himself. He was also an escape artist.  I had met him before on my own and he was friendly enough - just a lonely dog looking for companionship. But I knew Huff wasn’t going to be his friend. We would all be safer if I could keep them apart.

Crazy Dog headed toward us and I quite emphatically told him “No.”  I meant it and I must have sounded like it, because Crazy Dog stopped. He followed us, but he stayed back. Who knew I was that brave? You don’t mess with my pack. I was determined not to lose the progress Huff and I had made.

Just a few weeks before, Huff would have been pulling hard to get away. But now he was following my lead and not shrinking or running. He did try to pick up the pace a little but this was a huge improvement. 

We walked past Crazy Dog’s house and were at the edge of our yard.  Huff tugged on the leash heading for the steps wanting to run to the safety of his house. Crazy dog was still following us. I told him to go home, but he didn’t. He didn’t come closer, but he didn’t back away. I am sure in Crazy Dog’s mind, he was in his yard. From my human perspective he was in the street, but dogs aren’t good at reading human maps.

I refused to retreat.

I told Huff, “This is our yard and we were not running away.” I made sure I was standing straight and tall. He took his cue and did the same - at least as tall as a less than 2’ high guy can. He was prepared to do his part.

We walked the interior perimeter of our yard clearly marked by the fence. Huff added his own marks in several spots. All while Crazy Dog watched.

I was so proud of Huff for being brave and confident and claiming his space.  Although maybe I am a crazy person to be so proud of my dog for peeing!

The next morning there was fresh pile right outside the fence. I decided to interpret that as Crazy Dog’s acceptance of the border.  

I call it a win for our "pack of two" bonding and incredible bravery on Huff’s part.

Don't worry

Huff will be back next week with a series of special posts for the month of November. Not only is he humble and brave, he also believes in practicing gratitude.  Maybe it is simply the way of a dog to focus on the good in the present and let go of the past. Huff is grateful for the many good people  in his life so he wants to send a special message to some of them and maybe share a few bits of canine wisdom with the rest of us.