Saturday, April 4, 2009

Garth aka 'Guard Dog' aka Garfie or Guardie

Who'd thunk it - a Greyhound Guard Dog. We tell everyone if you want a guard dog, the greyhound probably isn't for you. Yes, they are big. Yes, they have lots of teeth and usually greet you with an open mouth (hoping for treats). Yes, they can run after someone fast (but they want to play).

I think we have one that is a Guard Greyhound folks! We've had Garth for 4 months now. His is 2 weeks shy of his 11th birthday, a super senior. He's had his share of hard luck - a broken hock on the track, a bounce early in his retired career in Florida, and a bounce last year after 6 years with his family and another break in the same hock under their care. During his last adoption situation, he developed severe separation anxiety from being locked in the basement while his peeps worked (children left for college, so no one to love on Garth anymore).

We knew his story and took on the challenge. He's doing much better, but he bonds very strongly to his peeps. That bonding has turned into protectiveness the last several weeks. Last week, Jon worked from home one day. Garth started a 'barking fit' while looking out the front door. The UPS man was delivering packages across the street to the neighbor. We knew he didn't like doorbells - maybe he could hear theirs. He continued to bark until the UPS man drove away.

The next night, the pizza man came bearing dinner. The problem was he arrived 20 minutes earlier than we were told, so he RANG the doorbell (we usually prepare 5 minutes before delivery time to avoid the doorbell issue). Garth ran down the stairs with his pack of 2 following and BARKED at the pizza man, even as I was paying him and taking the pizza. We try to make the pizza event a highlight to their day when it happens. Garth was not amused - his hackles were still up 10 minutes after the pizza man left, and he continued to prowl the window on the lookout for any other invaders.

This week, I was home sick several days. The FedEx man brought a boat object for Jon - you guessed it, left the package, a note on the door, and RANG the doorbell. The excitement played out again. Now Drew is starting to bark along. Thursday night, a girlfriend came by to pick something up. Since I knew she was coming, I turned on the outdoor lights, opened the door (not the storm door), and waited for her arrival. She is terrified of dogs...

As soon as she arrived, Garth was at the glass door waiting with me. He was fine, until she came in the house. He growled at her, his hackles came up, and then he started barking. Jon had to watch him while we took care of business in the office.

He does not do well with changes to his routine. I have nearly weaned him off the clomicalm that he needed when we got him. He doesn't have any destructive habits as long as he is not crated or confined to a space, but he is still very cautious around new situations, and worries when we leave. We can hear him pacing the house looking for us when we go to the basement. It's very sad to think in his mind, he's going to be left as he was at his previous adopters home.

I guess we need to set up situations to desensitize him and practice these things he obviously fears, and praise him when he corrects a bad behavior (like growling at people or barking at the doorbell). He's such a loving hound - always stopping by for reassurance that we are still here. He doesn't follow us around the house as he used to. He's now content to lay in the crate, door open, and rest away from us and Drew and Handy.


Coty said...

Sounds like he's struttin' his stuff ! Coty also has turned into quite the alarm dog. He sees the guy across the forest (about 400 ft.) walking in his driveway, and lets me know 'Hey - that guy is outside, I'm keeping an eye on him. Coty, the driveway alarm Dog, also notifies me that someone is entering the driveway another 350 ft. away. There's a very good book, The Other End of the Leash, by Patricia McConnell, that has some interesting things to say about why dogs do what they do. Good book. You Go - 'Garfie'. Cool Man Coty.

Maria Peters said...

I can just see that white tip on his tail pointed toward the sky! LOL. Altho' I'm surprised that he growled at your girlfriend...(Garth!) I need to do some doorbell training with my dogs, too. I dread that darn doorbell...June is our guard dog and they both take off slippin and slidin' and barking. Yikes. I'm glad Garth found you. Thanks for giving him good last years.