Gus has gotten bigger, and has learned to stay out from under or behind horses. Bear and Gus take great pleasure from prancing down the trail, sniffing out animals that have crossed the trail recently and running through the underbrush only to pop out on the trail again- great desensitization for Rocky.
Unfortunately, my dogs are no longer allowed at the barn, through no fault of their own. Nope, it's my fault that I can no longer take my dogs with me when I ride.
The last time I brought them with me, Silver's three dogs ran over to greet us at my car. This happens pretty frequently so I got out as usual and let my dogs out of the backseat. Gus popped out, landing in the middle of Silver's dogs. Two of them were smiling and wagging their tails. The third was her English Pointer, Chrusher. Chrusher's lips curled back in a snarl as Gus immediately cowered on the ground, peeing. I told Chrusher no and to go away. Gus crawled across the gravel, licking everyone's chins. Chrusher continued to snarl, so I told Gus to stop and return to me, which he did. I told Silver's dogs to leave again, and after a few tense seconds Silver's dogs wandered off. Bear laid down in the car and refused to come out. I debated getting in my car and leaving after only being at the barn for 10 seconds. The half hour drive each direction, plus gas money and the knowledge that I really wanted to see my horse outweighed the negative beginning to our day.
I figured the snarling would be done for the day and we could go for a peaceful trail ride.
I should have listened to my instincts and just gone home.
I got Rocky into the barn and was getting him ready to ride. Gus was in the barn with me, Bear was still hiding out in the car, although I left the car door open for him to come out when he was ready. Chrusher came through the barn, and began to snarl at Gus again. Gus groveled again, licking Chrusher's chin and wagging his tail hopefully. Chrusher started to add snap to his snarl, so I told him no and called Gus back to me.
To be fair, Gus did try to return to Chrusher a few times to make friends. However, Chrusher's snapping teeth were not okay with me and he was clearly not listening to my direction to cease and desist. When I stood next to him and said no, but he continued, I smacked his shoulders and said no again. He immediately stopped curling his lips and slunk off. One of the other boarders had Chrush come lay by her and I finished out the rest of my ride without issue.
I had almost left when Silver asked me in passing who got smacked. I told her Chrush had for snarling at Gus. She continued what she was doing without saying anything else and I went home. A few hours later I got this email:
Oh boy. I was in shock for a while, then I curled up and cried. The part about "continue to not stay where they belong" is her rule of no dogs by her house. Gus had a bit of a learning curve as a puppy but he was much improving in staying at the barn- he's only 9 months old now. Anyway. She didn't bother to ask for clarification on what happened, but I guess Gus was causing the problems and I should have let Chrush bite him. What I really should have done was either A) Leave right away or B) Ask Silver to do something about her dog. Although, upon reading her email I think she would have told me to do something about Gus. Who was doing everything he could to be submissive.Wanted to finish talking to you about this while you were at the barn but since I was being pulled in 2 different directions at the time I didnt have the chance. Basically dont ever raise your hand to one of my animals ever again, this is their home not yours, your dogs are visitors and if Gus was putting his nose where it didnt belong Chrush has every right to growl/snap at him. I have been very patient with the boys, they are more than welcome here but if they continue to not stay where they belong at the barn with you or cause problems with my dogs then you will be asked not to bring them anymore. I would never hit one of your animals and you hit Chrush hard enough for me to hear him cry all the way out into the arena, remember that because I wont forget it.
As far as the Cry heard into the arena, I didn't hear it. Maybe he did, and I missed it. Either way, and after much processing, I don't regret it. Yup, I hit her dog. I did not beat her dog or hit him more than once. I hit him with my bare hand on his shoulder for repeatedly being aggressive to my dog without listening to my orders to stop. In my book his behavior was unacceptable, but from her email it sounds like he was in the right. After a lot of thought, this was my reply:
I sincerely apologize and will not bring my dogs up anymore. I'm not sure what you heard as far as a cry goes, I believe you but I did not hear it myself- I thought I more tapped him on the shoulder to get his attention but clearly this was not the case. Again I apologize and I won't touch any of your animals again. I thought it would be okay to tap Chrush because I have seen you tap Mickey with your farrier rasp for less than what Chrush was doing. I can see that I very much overstepped my bounds and it will never happen again. I'm sorry.
Mickey is one of her other dogs, a Lab who is normally the aggressive one- he doesn't like puppies and she usually introduces him to new dogs with a lunge whip in her hand. Why a lunge whip, you ask? So she can hit him with it if he is too aggressive. Indeed, the farrier rasp reference I made in my apology is true- she tapped him on the head with the handle of her rasp when he was growling at Gus. After that Mickey learned that Gus was not to be tampered with and was generally okay with things.
In her email, she did not forbid my dogs to go to the barn. However, if she's okay with her dogs being that aggressive to mine, it doesn't seem worth it to me. The part about "I won't forget it" worried me, too. So now she is carrying a grudge against me? Well, there is not much I can do about it now other than stick to my word. I haven't touched any of her animals since, and my dogs stay home now.
I wish things had gone differently, and looking back I can see many forks in the road where there were opportunities for a different outcome. Life doesn't work that way, and we can only move forward from the choices we have made.