By Leslie Gallagher
We knew Kenny needed another home. That was pretty obvious. But before we could completely call it a day with him, we felt that we had to exhaust all of our training options JUST IN CASE. If there were any way on earth that we could convince Kenny to get along with Kashmir, and convince Kashmir not to be terrified of Kenny, we had to give it a try. We desperately loved Kenny and had worked so freaking hard to get him better and walking again. He was family!! He had to help us make it work!
We called our trainer, Michael Chill who is a genius at dealing with canine aggression (among other things). Michael offered to help us give it a try but he was not hopeful, given Kenny’s long history of being unsocialized with other dogs and due to the fact that he had ostensibly been dumped at Dobie rescue for dog hostility. He felt that it was likely that we could, with a lot of work, convince Kashmir to not be afraid of Ken but that it was highly unlikely to change Kenny’s personality. And he felt that an incident like what happened with Kashmir knocking Kenny down would have happened at anytime, regardless of how careful we were. He said that as Ken got stronger and more comfortable in our home, he was bound to eventually start challenging our male dogs. Michael reminded us repeatedly how difficult it is to change an older dog’s ingrained behavior, especially one that had gone through the hell that Ken had gone through. Having said and done all that he jumped in to help us. First on the list? Get Kenny to acknowledge Kashmir. Who’d a thunk it would be so hard?
In the house, Kenny and Kashmir were obviously separated. One would be let out for a while to romp around and play and then he would be put away and the other would be let out to do the same. It was stressful and complicated as a couple of times one of us didn’t realize that Kashmir was loose and would let Kenny out and we’d both go into complete panic mode grabbing one or the other and carefully securing them into a bedroom. One very memorable day Kashmir was loose and Bryan had taken Kenny for a walk. He thought I had put Kashmir away and I thought he was putting Kenny back into the bedroom. Kenny came sauntering into the breakfast room and went after Kashmir like he’d been shot out of a cannon. To his credit Kashmir just kept backing away until he was completely cornered and we were able to pull Ken off of him. But Bryan had his headphones on and didn’t hear me screaming (I’m normally calm in a crisis but I totally freaked out thinking Kenny was going to kill the pup). I also couldn’t risk pulling hard on Kenny because of his neck injury so I’m having a total meltdown trying to CAREFULLY pull Kenny away without hurting him and making sure he didn’t sink his teeth into Kashmir. All the while waiting for my strong husband to jump in and save the day as I knew Kenny would listen to him more than me. So. Freaking. Stressful……Also filed under “Why Did I Marry This Guy” was the morning Bryan was about to go for a surf. It was pre-dawn. He went to put on Kenny’s leash but Ken thought it would be better if he hopped in bed with me. AND KASHMIR. Kashmir froze, not moving a muscle as Ken tried to get comfortable on Bryan’s pillow. I went from a sound sleep to heart palpitations in less than a second. Bryan yanked Ken off the bed, no one got hurt but sleep was finished for all of us.
Kenny was highly aggressive towards Kashmir in the house but interestingly what Michael wanted us to do was to start walking them together. How hard could that be?! Neutral territory!Michael’s plan was for Kenny to acknowledge Kashmir. If we could get that to happen then maybe we could start making some progress. But it was too big of an obstacle. Out on a walk Kenny became almost comatose near Kashmir. And what we had to do was to get Kenny to sniff Kashmir’s butt (and vice versa if possible). You wouldn’t think that would be so hard but it was ridiculous. Ken would completely shut down at the sight of Kashmir and poor Kashmir would practically start sweating. Ken would do everything short of closing his eyes to not acknowledge Kashmir, including turning his head and walking almost sideways so that he didn’t have to see him. Kashmir was so nervous but always game to let us work with him, and would politely go up to every tree and pee on it. We would then try to walk Kenny up to Kashmir’s butt to get a good sniff. I’m sure my neighbors were dying of laughter watching us walk these two terrified big male Dobermans.
I think we had success exactly once. Ken actually sniffed Kashmir’s butt on one of our first walks and we thought we were on the road to getting them together, but it was only one time and it basically never happened again. Ken could just not let go of his fear. And then we’d go back in the house and that night Ken would be put in his x-pen in our bedroom (god forbid we all not sleep together), Kashmir would be let in to get in bed with us and Ken would go ballistic if towels or blankets weren’t hung over the x-pen to keep them from seeing each other. We spent hours trying this routine and trying to get them together and it just ended in frustration and tears all around. Ken wanted Kashmir (and Monty) to move out and that was that. Unfortunately both Kashmir and Monty had been there first so we knew we needed to find Kenny a better home. With girls. Or little dogs. He just couldn’t handle big males.
Bryan and I were so incredibly sad……..