Last Saturday Delilah and I got to spend the afternoon with my friend Jo-Anne and her dog Achilles. Achilles is (to the best of my knowledge) a White German Shepherd/Husky mix.
I’ve always found Achilles to be friendly and affectionate, in fact sometimes he freaks me out a little because he will just stare into your eyes. I often wonder if he’s trying to tell me something.
Something like, I’m really a prince stuck in this body, kiss me and I’ll make all your dreams come true.
It’s a good thing I can’t read his mind because he’s probably really thinking, move a little closer I want to hump your leg.
Jo-Anne rescued Achilles just before we rescued Delilah, in fact Jo-Anne’s rescue of Achilles is what inspired me to rescue Delilah.
Now that I’m thinking about it, I don’t know if I should thank her or curse her.
Anyhoo…Jo-Anne sent me an e-mail about 10 days ago asking if Delilah and I could help her with a little problem Achilles was having. Apparently while Lily and Achilles get along just fine, Achilles is having some confusion about the proper way to react and play with other dogs.
Jo-Anne’s new trainer, Marcus asked her if she could find someone with a female dog, that was either a husky mix or a lab.
Marcus asked us to find a neutral place that was fenced in. I knew of a baseball field at one of the elementary schools that would be perfect. When we got to the designated spot, there was a young man walking a German Shepherd back and forth. I was a little anxious because Delilah can sometimes go a bit ballistic when she’s in the car and sees another dog outside.
Great first impression right? You pull up and your dog loses her stuff.
But it didn’t happen like that.
Turns out the guy walking the dog was Marcus’ brother Thomas, walking Marcus’ dog Tye. Marcus has been using Tye (who has some dog aggression issues) to help Achilles with his issues.
The first thing we did was take the dogs out of the car. Marcus came over to introduce himself to Delilah and she turned her back on him and sat down.
Marcus was tickled.
He asked me if he could introduce Delilah to Achilles, I said, “Yes, as long as you don’t hurt my dog.”
Ballsy, I know.
He introduced them and after a second or so, Achilles got a little snarky and Delilah set him straight.
I told Marcus, “Don’t worry, she can handle him.”
Once all the dogs had been introduced we started some walking exercises.
Marcus wanted Achilles to get used to walking without reacting to other dogs.
We realized there was a lot of glass in the parking area, so we moved the dogs onto one of the side streets.
Tye went home and Marcus had Jo-Anne have Achilles sit in the parking lot while Delilah and I walked around them. The goal was to get Achilles to focus on Jo-Anne and not on Delilah.
Every time Achilles looked at Jo-Anne, he got a treat.
After this we went back to Jo-Anne’s house. Marcus and Tye, Delilah and I sat on the patio while Jo-Anne worked Achilles in the yard. The reasoning for this was to help Achilles learn to focus while there were distractions.
After about 15 minutes or so, Marcus said Delilah and I could leave. He asked me if I could put Delilah in the car before I said good-bye to Jo-Anne.
When I got back to the yard he said he was going to have Jo-Anne hand me a treat for Achilles and I could give it to him when he was sitting properly.
I took the treat and then approached Jo-Anne and Achilles, with my hand out like a stop sign. Just as I got up to him, Achilles got up, so I turned around and walked away, waited a few seconds and approached Achilles again. This time he stayed sitting.
Marcus said Delilah was the perfect dog to work with Achilles because she is calm and exhibits the proper signals to other dogs.
Of course, it doesn’t hurt that she can hold her own.
I know many of you have used or trained therapy dogs, but have you ever heard of a dog working with other dogs? What would you call that? Would you do it with your own pup?