Wednesday, July 23, 2014
PLACERVILLE, CALIFORNIA
99 CENTS

Dog talk with Uncle Matty: You’re not the Don, and it’s not personal

By
From page A4 | April 26, 2013 |

Daisy is a 20-pound mutt, female, somewhere between 2 and 4 years old. We also have a 6-year-old Labradoodle. We rescued Daisy from a reservoir near our house in December of 2011. She was on her last leg and has recovered nicely except for one thing: She’s overprotective when anyone or any dog enters the house or yard. If she knows the person or dog, she’s fine once she recognizes them. Otherwise, we can’t settle her down.

I was watching our neighbor’s dog today, and Daisy was lying next to me. She started growling, and as the neighbor’s dog came closer, Daisy’s growl escalated. I told her to relax, but she started to attack the other dog. I grabbed her — making sure she knew it was me — and she turned on me and bit me. 

I responded in anger and approached her with that mindset, which made her even more aggressive toward me. I grabbed Daisy and my pistol and headed toward the woods, but I was just venting. I could never hurt an animal. But I am concerned that Daisy’s aggression will get worse as she gets older. I don’t know whether it’s hereditary or abuse, but I need to help her if possible.

For a minute there, I thought we were heading for an “Old Yeller” ending — minus the fateful rabies outbreak as justification.

I called this guy to make sure he had talked himself down from the ledge.

I asked him, “Have you killed her?”

He told me no, she’s fine. “I was just so angry.”

Some people reading this will be ready to meet at the town square, tar and feathers in hand. But the truth is, a lot of people get irrationally angry with their dogs when things don’t go their way.

Why are we getting so angry? Why is it the dog’s fault that we don’t understand its behavior?

Were it not for this man and his family, Daisy would not be alive. She was seriously injured, unable to walk and in grave danger of starving to death alone in a ditch. He rescued her, got her vital medical attention and nursed her back to health. And don’t think that’s not part of the problem.

He did so much for her. Why won’t she just behave for him?

As with children, so it is with dogs. It just doesn’t work that way.

Daisy didn’t bite him because she’s ungrateful. She bit him because he inserted himself into an ongoing act of aggression, prompting her redirection onto him. She didn’t willfully ignore his earlier request that she “relax.” She has no idea what “relax” means because he hasn’t trained her.

In his 1969 book “The Godfather,” Mario Puzo wrote of the now legendary Don Corleone: “If a bolt of lightning hit a friend of his, the old man would take it personal.”

For the Don, that philosophy fueled a strategy, one that allowed for no accidents, no misunderstandings, no unintentional slights — which took all the stress out of deciding whether retaliation was appropriate. It was. Always.

For those of us not in the mafia, living this way makes no sense. And it’s wildly out of place in dealing with our dogs.

On that day, before the other dog and the pistol and after the other dog and the pistol, the story of Daisy and her knight was ongoing. He rescued her, he nursed her, he invited her to stay. Still to come: He deepened his insight into her behavior, he got her trained, and they lived happily ever after.

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. 

Comments

comments

Matthew Margolis

.

News

 
Heard over the back fence: Attorney to warn about scams

By Bob Billingsley | From Page: B1

Road zone of benefit protester reaches dead end

By Dawn Hodson | From Page: A1 | Gallery

 
Six file for Dist. 2

By Dawn Hodson | From Page: A1

District 2 candidates forum Aug. 14

By News Release | From Page: B1

 
EID ditch customers get relief

By Michael Raffety | From Page: A1

Veterans receive wildland fire training

By News Release | From Page: B1

 
Market data open for local biz

By Ross Branch | From Page: B1

Volunteers clean up national forest

By News Release | From Page: A3 | Gallery

 
.

Opinion

Russian metastasis

By Mountain Democrat | From Page: A4

 
The Democratic-Chronicles: Not invented here

By Gene Altshuler | From Page: A4

My turn: Special interests at EID

By Special to the Democrat | From Page: A4

 
.

Letters

DA hogging Main St. parking

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A5

 
CAO and staff hiring friends

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A5

Altshuler’s hypocrisy

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A5

 
Small Farm compromise

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A5

EID and Dale Coco

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A5

 
.

Sports

Roundup: July 22, 2014

By Democrat Staff | From Page: A6

 
Dolphins ring up another title

By Democrat Staff | From Page: A6 | Gallery

Sharks defeat Loomis Basin in season finale

By Democrat Staff | From Page: A6 | Gallery

 
Celebrity golf at Tahoe

By Democrat Staff | From Page: A6 | Gallery

Dodgeball: Not the national pastime but …

By Shane Theodore | From Page: A7 | Gallery

 
.

Prospecting

At a glance: Comets to meteors

By Mimi Escabar | From Page: B2

 
Taste the best at the State Fair

By Democrat Staff | From Page: B2 | Gallery

Amador Fair honors cowboys

By Amador County Fair | From Page: B3

 
Tractor Supply Store recognized

By Uc Cooperative | From Page: B3

 
Arbor Day book helps to identify trees

By Arbor Day | From Page: B4

Learn about lavender and its many benefits

By Christian Women's Connection | From Page: B4

 
Builders’ Exchange honors scholars

By El Dorado Builders' Exchange | From Page: B5

 
En garde at Silver Screen Classic

By Auburn Silver Screen | From Page: B5

Lee’s Feed appreciates customers

By Democrat Staff | From Page: B5

 
My Time meeting in August

By Senior Day | From Page: B5

.

Essentials

Weather stats 7-22-14

By Michael Raffety | From Page: A2

 
Crime Log: July 8-10

By Cole Mayer | From Page: A2

.

Obituaries

Arthur J. Funston

By Contributor | From Page: A2

 
Walter Vali

By Contributor | From Page: A2

Jean Lachelle Taylor

By Contributor | From Page: A2

 
.

Real Estate

.

Comics

Horoscope, Thursday, July 24, 2014

By Contributor | From Page: A8

 
Horoscope, Wednesday, July 23, 2014

By Contributor | From Page: A8

Working It Out

By Contributor | From Page: A8

 
TV Listings

By Contributor | From Page: A8

Shoe

By Contributor | From Page: A8

 
Sudoku

By Contributor | From Page: A8

Rubes

By Contributor | From Page: A8

 
New York Times Crossword

By Contributor | From Page: A8

Flying McCoys

By Contributor | From Page: A8

 
Speed Bump

By Contributor | From Page: A8

Tundra

By Contributor | From Page: A8