Somehow we made it through this weekend but not without some very good things and something not-so-good.
The plan was to take him up to visit my Mom and some family members for her 84th birthday. My sister had called my niece and told her NOT to bring her dogs because Blue was coming. This was very thoughtful and sweet of her.
I knew Sadie, my Mom's 14-year old Corgi would be there, of course. That would not be a problem because if it's too much for Sadie, she goes to her bed and is left alone.
I knew there would be a few people there but I did not know there would be 16...in a very small house...with Otto, my niece's cute Jack Russel Terrier.
We got there and Blue was wonderful. He ran around and greeted everyone. I told them all to just ignore him and see what he does. He was wonderful. Tail wagging, running around, smiling. Very loving.
He greeted Sadie. He started to lick her and she snapped at him. Blue does not understand this. I was sitting right there with him, holding his collar. I gently pulled him back. Well, as gentle as you can be with a dog who is so strong.
Otto came up and Blue did the same thing. Otto snapped and I saw Blue try to dominate him by putting his front leg over Otto.
OK, now I know I have a dominate male pit bull. Duly noted.
Otto and Blue went back and forth a bit during the day. I put him back on his leash because he was getting over-excited and I still have a ways to go to get him under control.
He licked the faces of the children and wagged his tail. Various family member commented that I should to this and that and watch out for...
I started to feel myself get overwhelmed and Blue was too excited. I put him out in the yard and went in and out. He cried and fussed. We kept Otto away from him because my niece said Otto likes to instigate shit. They have several dogs on their ranch and Otto was becoming an outside dog because he can be such a butt head. Plus she has a 5-week old daughter and can handle just so much.
Blue gently went over to the new baby and licked her head. My brother and cousin told me not to let him do that. That is was a bad thing because it could make the parents nervous. I didn't argue, but tried to understand. Finally I realized that Blue was making some people nervous, so I put him back outside. I decided to leave him there and when everyone was gone, bring him back in.
I should have stuck with my decision, but I didn't. It was decided that pictures were to be taken AND that Blue should be in them.
I thought that was a wonderful gesture, so I brought him back in and sat down.
Keep in mind that I already realized this was getting to be too much for him. There were too many people and I had made a mistake. I put him in a situation that he was not prepared to handle. Too many people in a small area with other dogs.
As we were taking the pictures, I was having a hard time getting him to relax and sit on my lap. He could do it for a moment, but then wanted to play.
The pictures were taken and as people were starting to move around, someone dropped something right in front of Blue. I was not paying attention but the sound scared me and I flinched.
Blue snapped and snarled at it. I didn't know what was going on. It wasn't a big deal to me, but it was to Blue. People were crowded in on he and I, I flinched and he reacted.
I had my hand on his collar and felt him jerk forward towards the sound. I yanked him back, still not sure what happened, but I felt my adrenaline pump.
The room got quiet because he had growled.
I thought he was reacting to Otto, so I put him back outside. I was suddenly scared.
After everyone left, my Mom said she saw what happened. A child had dropped his toy on the ground right in front of Blue and it scared him. She said it wasn't a big deal at all.
But everyone reacted.
I had blown it. I had suspected he was fear-aggressive and now I had it confirmed. Maverick was like that and I would have never put him in the situation I had just done with Blue.
Once everyone was gone, I brought him back in. He got up on the couch with my Mom and I and cuddled. He laid on my Mom's lap, licked her face and settled down. She petted him and soothed him and told him what a good boy he was.
I told my Mom I felt horrible. She said "Look, you're a responsible dog owner. You're taking him to classes. It's not a big deal and if it's a problem, just muzzle him. It's going to be OK so stop worrying about it."
All night, I mentally kicked myself for being so stupid. Blue needs to be socialized slowly and not with 16 people and dogs in a small room all at once.
When we got home, I got the car unpacked and Blue settled in. I sat down and looked at him while he looked up and me with his ears back and his tail wagging.
I knew what I had to do.
I took him for a very long walk then ran him for 1/2 hour in the yard. I then fed him and worked with him on basic commands for about 10 minutes. I brought his bed in from the yard and put it next to the couch. I began to exert more positive control. He now sleeps on his bed and isn't allowed up on the couch.
I made him sit and wait before jumping up on the bed. Everything I asked him to do, he did.
I crawled into bed and pulled him next to me. He licked my face and burrowed into me.
I looked down at him and realized that I understood him so well.
I understand being afraid. I understand being a form of life that isn't always easy to deal with and that no one wants.
I understand what it's like to not have a home and to be scared of not knowing what is going to happen the very next moment.
I understand being bounced from one place to another.
I understand the feeling of total isolation from others and not knowing what you did wrong.
I know all about it.