My guide dog Laveau is a pound puppy. Even the best and most wonderful pound puppies come with their share of baggage. This is why I so desperately wanted to obtain my next dog from a reputable breeder-- it was my hope I could get a really great dog with very few issues.
But life didn't work out that way and I ended up with a funny black Doberman mix from the pound. She left her pound experience behind largely no worse for the wear, except for ... "The Food Thing®"
She must have been starving when they found her. She lived at the pound for five weeks and when I adopted her, you never would have known she was getting regular meals at the pound; she was so skinny.
For the first two months I had her it seemed she did nothing but eat. I let her eat as much as she wanted and once she figured out that yes, this raw chicken is actually food, she realized that the whole prey animal thing was a really fabulous idea!
She ate and ate and ate. I had to watch her like a hawk in the house because if it was food, she would eat it.
We worked on the concept of "Doggie Zen." This means that if you want something (like food) you must ignore it.
She became very good at ignoring food, and after a while I built up trust that she would behave herself.
But sometimes... Sometimes she backslides!
Yesterday I needed to run some errands. I decided to take Mill'E-Max since she hadn't gone out in a few days and I knew that Laveau would have a full work day on Sunday.
I've now worked with Laveau enough that I feel safe leaving her free in the house when I'm gone. Usually she will take all of my dirty clothes out to the front room, make a nest, and snuggle down in it to watch the door and wait for me to return home. I don't care if she does this-- she doesn't damage my clothes and hey, we all have our little idiosyncrasies, right?
Mister Pawpower and I harnessed up the dogs, leaving Laveau and Bristol home alone.
Now, Laveau may be very well trained, but I'm no fool. I usually close the kitchen door when I go, and yesterday was no exception.
I didn't know that at some point Laveau had taught herself to open the door...
Do you see where this is going? Do You?
I was gone for maybe 90 minutes. I return and unharness the dogs. I noticed that Laveau didn't make the usual pile of clothes by the door and wondered about it. Nothing looked out of place. Clothes were still in the hamper, kitchen door was shut, everything seemed the same as when I had left.
Until I found the empty bag of cheese Chex Mix on my pillow.
While I was gone, Laveau opened the kitchen door, took the half-eaten bag of Chex mix off the table, carried it out of the kitchen, shut the door, climbed up on my pillow on my bed and finished said bag of Chex mix. If she had only managed to throw the bag in the garbage, I never would have known and would have just assumed that my husband, Mr. Pawpower, ate the last of the snack food.
I know it wasn't Bristol who did this. Not because Bristol is perfect-- (well she's almost perfect) but because Bristol can't get up on our high bed.
This just goes to show, you can train and work, but dogs will be dogs, and they're always going to have an Achilles heel! Apparently Laveau's is Cheese Chex Mix!