Wednesday, April 23, 2014
PLACERVILLE, CALIFORNIA
99 CENTS

Dog talk with Uncle Matty: Sleeping with a three-headed rattlesnake

H.L. Mencken said, “The most costly of all follies is to believe passionately in the palpably not true. It is the chief occupation of mankind.”

The following letter from a reader demonstrates that it is certainly the chief occupation of those who champion the companionship of a particular canine at any cost.

We recently got an 8-month-old yellow lab from a family with three small children. The lady said the dog could be aggressive and had nipped at her 2-year-old.

She is a very nervous puppy — jumps at the slightest movement or noise. She also jumps and twitches when she sleeps. We have experienced her aggression now, and it is quite scary.

The second morning we had her, something spooked her and she would not let us near our truck. The doors were all open, and she sat in the driver’s seat growling and showing her teeth. I got a treat and put it on the ground near us. When I said “release,” she got out, snatched the treat and jumped right back in. She calmed down, but was nervous all day after that.

She has showed her teeth a few times, and we’re not sure how to handle it. I read that it isn’t always good to approach or discipline her when she is showing her teeth and growling, because it could initiate an attack. I know that she is scared and confused. Within one week, she stayed in four different houses, with all new people.

We’ve had her for a week, and we’d love to keep her. We have no children, but we have nieces and nephews around often. We need to break her of these aggressive behaviors, or we will not be able to run the risk of her hurting a child.

She is a good dog — excellent when playing fetch, gives up the ball or toy every time. However, she gets aggressive with some of her toys when indoors. We gave her a pig’s ear last night, and she got extremely aggressive. Every time we moved, she growled and showed her teeth — even when we were nowhere near her. She came out of it, but again she was nervous for the rest of the night.

This is akin to buying a car with no brakes because you like the ashtray and don’t smoke. With all the great dogs in shelters that need homes, why insist on the one you know is aggressive? It is one thing to root for the underdog and quite another to invite the snarling underdog to share your home.

Did John Lennon do us all in when he wrote “All You Need Is Love?” The four decades that have transpired since that release have taught me that this, like so many other missives of the 1960s, does not apply literally to everyday life.

When it comes to aggressive dogs, you need more than love. You need an excess of time, an arsenal of experience and technique, and a backup plan for that moment when you realize some things can’t be fixed. Now what?

This dog requires professional help and, as is, cannot be around children. Her aggression is trifold: She’s possessive, territorial and fearful. It’s like living with a three-headed rattlesnake and, as the Roman satirist Horace put it, “as crazy as hauling timber into the woods.”

Woof!

Dog trainer Matthew “Uncle Matty” Margolis is co-author of 18 books about dogs, a behaviorist, a popular radio and television guest, and host of the PBS series “WOOF! It’s a Dog’s Life!” Read all of Uncle Matty’s columns at www.creators.com, and visit him at www.unclematty.com. Send your questions to dearuncle.gazette@unclematty.com or by mail to Uncle Matty at P.O. Box 3300, Diamond Springs 95619.

Copyright 2013 Creators Syndicate Inc. 

Matthew Margolis

LEAVE A COMMENT

Discussion | 29 comments

  • DeeApril 26, 2013 - 7:11 pm

    This is to the family that surrendered Maddie to the Animal Shelter. We want you to know that we adopted her and find a bundle of energy but sweet and eager to please. We are retired so the day for her includes a 45 minute walk basically straight up. Soon her backpack will arrive and she will carry a little extra weight. This also to get her in shape for hiking. She has a ball fetish so we try to include two 30 minute sessions of ball retrieval. We are having fun. Of course there is always a adjustments that must be made and it isn't her, it is the cat. Our cat has gone from beautiful kitty to killer cat. So we are working on that. But we want you to know that Maddie has home and she will keep it.

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  • DB SmithApril 26, 2013 - 8:19 pm

    Way to go Dee. I'm sure Maddie is helping to fill a huge void. You know the old saying "fighting like cats and dogs". Kinda like political parties but I guess that would be more like Elephants and Jackasses. We went through the same thing with ours at first but it finally settled down and now they tolerate each other. Have fun.

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  • DeeApril 27, 2013 - 11:06 am

    DB-Thank you for the ray of hope.

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  • DB SmithApril 27, 2013 - 12:37 pm

    Colonel, I was out picking up a few dog bombs in the yard and Mr. Fred came to mind. I remember you said you had to wear gloves to give Fred his chemo pills so that made me wonder if the little guy drops radioactive dog bombs? Maybe I shouldn't wonder so much but I was just curious how that works. Glad to see you posting more often and I hope the little guy is doing good.

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  • James E.April 27, 2013 - 12:47 pm

    DB, Mr. Fred does drop bombs that have to be carefully picked up. Additionally, his urine is allegedly radioactive so he has his special place in the yard away from the other dogs. Mr. Fred is just doing great -- so side effects from the chemo and acts like a puppy again (a 13 year old puppy). No cure, but hopefully his remission will last 12-24 months. We chose more life over death within 4 weeks -- best money I ever spent.

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  • James E.April 27, 2013 - 1:18 pm

    *** no

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  • Phil VeerkampApril 27, 2013 - 1:31 pm

    James, radioactive piŝŝ should glow in the dark. Tonight before moon-rise go outside after first turning off all inside lights. Fred’s radioactive contamination should be obvious. Fence off all glowing patches. Be a responsible citizen. First thing Monday do the right thing. Self-report. Call the EPA and initiate the process for SUPER FUND remediation through g’vmnt grant process. You could score BIG TIME. Have a nice day.

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  • James E.April 27, 2013 - 1:50 pm

    Phil, I hit the wrong button and accidentally reported your comment as abusive. I recant. My Goodness, Mr. Fred could be contaminating the water we are sending to Los Angeles. Hmmm, Super Fund -- maybe they could dig up the yard and raze the house. House is 107 years old so might be good to start all over. I'm not looking forward to the new roof and the outside painting. Probably around $30K. But, I guess it's trickle down.

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  • EvelynApril 27, 2013 - 1:53 pm

    No, James, you hit the RIGHT button.

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  • EvelynApril 27, 2013 - 1:56 pm

    While you're at it, also take outside one of your old glow-in-the-dark wrist watches to see which gives off better light.

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  • DeeApril 27, 2013 - 5:19 pm

    Evelyn, do you know any thing about the new roundabaout that is the subject of Tuesdays'meeting?

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  • EvelynApril 27, 2013 - 6:09 pm

    Dee: The only things I know as FACT are: (1) the City says it wants input from Placerville residents about what WE WANT; (2) the Roundabout (and related) will be discussed at Tuesday's 6-8pm meeting; (3) our City Fathers & Mothers say no decisions have been taken; (4) the City is holding many unadvertised pre-Neighborhood Chat meetings with business owners in the affected area. Apparently EACH of the meetings includes only ONE business owner plus FOUR from the City -- TWO City Councilors, the City Manager and the Community Development Director. (An “aside”: The City is devoting a lot of official time to these pre-meeting meetings.) ********** Dee: Thank you for asking. PLEASE COME ON TUESDAY. Bring your 500 closest friends and anyone you may know who has legal experience.

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  • francescaduchamp@att.netApril 27, 2013 - 6:15 pm

    Where is the meeting being held?

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  • EvelynApril 27, 2013 - 6:20 pm

    Fran: Town Hall HERE

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  • francescaduchamp@att.netApril 27, 2013 - 6:30 pm

    http://www.cityofplacerville.org/civicax/filebank/blobdload.aspx?blobid=4081 6:00 PM - 8:00 PM, Town Hall, 549 Main Street, Placerville. The topic will be the potential replacement of the Clay Street Bridge, as well as alternatives for the potential realignment of the intersections of Clay Street, Main Street, and Cedar Ravine. Look at the link...it is an older project that was put to the side

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  • EvelynApril 27, 2013 - 6:33 pm

    MORE: It would be good to know whether anyone from the Farmers' Market is being brought into the City's confidence (invited to their pre-meeting meetings). Probably whatever the City has in mind would reduce or eliminate entirely the number of parking spaces in the Ivy House Parking Lot. By definition that would dislocate/eliminate the Farmers' Market. Several years ago when this came up the City's proposed solution was to relocate the Farmers' Market up to and on either side of the Trail.

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  • EvelynApril 27, 2013 - 7:00 pm

    Mayor Mattson on April 9th at the City Council Meeting: "What we’re going to be looking at is: How do we address the Cedar Ravine / Clay Street intersection?" ********** I post this by way of correction. The word ROUNDABOUT has not actually been used.

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  • DeeApril 28, 2013 - 8:31 am

    Evelyn- Thanks for th information. I hope everyone comes to the meeting on Tuesday. I'll post a message at Hangtown.com. Hopefully we can explain to the City Council that we don't want it. Again, thank you.

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  • Phil VeerkampApril 28, 2013 - 9:00 am

    Evelyn, there is no Cedar Ravine intersection with Clay. Clay intersects Main. Cedar intersects with Main. What does Mayor Mattson question mean, "How do we address the Cedar Ravine / Clay Street intersection?" Clay traffic is handled with a stop sign. Is there really a traffic jam at Clay and Main? Cedar Ravine is handled adequately with the existing rules of take-turn-stop-and-go. It works fine as is.

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  • EvelynApril 28, 2013 - 9:14 am

    Phil: You pose a good question for Mayor Mattson. The only way it makes sense (to me) is if it's actually a Roundabout under discussion. As for current traffic flow from Cedar Ravine to Main St, things are working just fine. I can't recall ever having been delayed as long as five seconds at the intersection in question. The bottle neck is further down at the Court House intersection. Village Wags want to know: Does the City have undisclosed long-range plans? As someone has written to me: The only reason to pursue this project is to “increase road capacity.” The only reason to “increase capacity” is to benefit someone’s project.

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  • francescaduchamp@att.netApril 28, 2013 - 9:25 am

    http://www.cityofplacerville.org/civicax/filebank/blobdload.aspx?blobid=4081

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  • EvelynApril 28, 2013 - 10:17 am

    Fran: Above, you linked to the City's first Roundabout plan. At the City Council meeting of 2/8/2011, 24 residents (including numerous business owners) spoke AGAINST the project; 5 were FOR it. On August 9th, David Machado (then Mayor), said: “I guess what’s been the most amazing for me is hearing it from well respected people in the community that I trust and respect and that almost to a person I’m finding that there is no traction and no support for the Roundabout. ... So, after months of talking with folks both in and outside the City I’m not finding very many people who support the Roundabout.” Wendy Mattson supported him, saying, “It’s interesting that you bring this up tonight because I, too, have had very similar discussions.”

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  • francescaduchamp@att.netApril 28, 2013 - 10:23 am

    Evelyn...I saw the connection...then I saw the mention of trails...I know up here there is a strong push for this trail to link sac with Tahoe As I have seen across the states--bikes and trails win. will it also here in this county. since no one wanted it--why will it be up for discussion again?

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  • francescaduchamp@att.netApril 28, 2013 - 10:26 am

    Sorry will bikes and trails win over everything here in the county as well--at any cost? In the final parks and trails--it shows maps of the trails...Pollock (CEDAPP) This trail is their holy grail. It is what they believe will boost the economy.

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  • EvelynApril 28, 2013 - 10:37 am

    Regarding the original Project, on 10/24/2012 the El Dorado Co. Superior Court ordered the City to: ”Set aside all approvals of the Project and the MND. Respondents shall within 45 days set aside and void any and all approvals and findings of the Clay Street/Cedar Ravine Realignment and Clay Street Bridge at Hangtown Creek Replacement Project (hereafter, “Project”), the approval of the Mitigated Negative Declaration (MND) and Mitigation Monitoring Program. Respondents shall refrain from further approval of the Project unless and until Respondents prepare an adequate Environmental Impact Report (EIR) that complies with the laws of CEQA and this Judgment.”

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  • francescaduchamp@att.netApril 28, 2013 - 10:40 am

    https://www.eldoradocounty.org/pdf/BA_Newletter_Feb_15_2013.pdf Well...hopefully these grants are not clouding the vision of some of these leaders. And they listen to the people.

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  • francescaduchamp@att.netApril 28, 2013 - 10:54 am

    http://www.cityofplacerville.org/civicax/filebank/blobdload.aspx?BlobID=6787 Evelyn...have you seen this?

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  • EvelynApril 28, 2013 - 11:04 am

    Fran: Yes, I had seen it but am glad for the memory refresher!

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  • cookie65May 04, 2013 - 9:28 am

    It sounds as though this dog got its start with people who had no business owning a dog. It takes work to make a lab unsocial. My chocolate is 90 lbs. of Hi, How Are Ya!!! My guess is the first owner had all the characteristics this poor dog is now challenged with. James, did they give you a hazmat kit for Mr. Fred's chemo? It is a subject not discussed but all that nuclear and chemo medication is subject to the law of "what goes in must come out, and water flows downhill". I had a lengthy conversation with one my chemo nurses about that very subject.

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