The Bruce Report

Well, Bruce is on trial for a few weeks here before we decide if he will be a permanent fixture, as he has had one episode that made me quite nervous as to how well he will fit in, long term here. He has behaved just beautifully in 99.8% of situations. He does well with the children when he is up and around with them. He is responding obediently to them when they give him commands. He doesn’t mind them being near his food dish or near him while he eats.

We’ve really bonded and The Pastor is even quite attached to him and happy with how he fits into the family.

But the event in question happened yesterday when Bruce was snoozing at my feet as I sat at the computer checking e-mail, etc. My two year old, who is all better — thank you to those who prayed for him, walked by him… didn’t approach him or do anything to him but apparently he startled Bruce as he walked by and Bruce jumped up and snarled. He did not bite him. But my little one was obviously quite frightened by the experience. Thankfully I was right there and within about .002 seconds of hearing it, I turned around and grabbed Bruce’s collar, gave him a loud and firm NO and removed him from the room for a while. So I caught it as it was happening which is good.

The event put a healthy dose of caution into me and I got in touch with Bruce’s former owners to see if he had ever done anything like this before. They assured me he had not and that they were just as concerned as I was. They said he has never ever bitten anyone and never given more than a low warning growl when confronted with something unfamiliar and unexpected.

I let them know that Bruce is on trial now for the next couple of weeks and if anything remotely like this happens again we will know it was more than just new-to-the-environment-nerves. So I am watching him closely. And I am working with him and my two year old in ways that will help Bruce see my little one as a dominant authority figure; having the little one give him some commands and then give him treats when he obeys. He takes the treats very gently from my little guy so I’m encouraged but he will really have to prove himself over the next few weeks.

When adopting an adult dog you are always taking risks as you have no idea what their past experiences have been, what they got away with regularly, what has a tendency to set them off or if they have a perfectly clean record and just take some time to settle in and feel comfortable in a new situation. We knew this risk when making this decision and Bruce passed muster at the first meeting by doing everything that a good adoptable dog should do at a first meeting. He gave every indication that he was submissive and docile and has for the most part been all of this since getting here. But one event is enough to have me on high alert for another so we’ll see…

He’s been such a good dog in every other respect. He is a little apprehensive when people come to the door and he took a while to warm up to our first visitor since his arrival. After that he has warmed up to all other newcomers (we had several people come over yesterday which I’m sure he’s not very used to) right away when they got in the door.

When he is up and around with the kids he is very gentle and quite relaxed with them but even so, he’s now on my watch list. We will all be very sad if he cannot stay but obviously we have to have our kids’ safety as our number one concern. So Bruce gets a break this one time as I realize he has gone through a great many changes this week and he is still adjusting to life in a busy house full of small children. One break. If we have anything like it again though, his owners have said they will understand if we need to return him to them. So I’m glad that we are in good communication with his former owners about Bruce’s transition.

I had initially asked his former owners if we might have a trial period with him to see how things go so I’m glad that they are open and accepting of that idea. They want what’s best for him and for us and so do we. I’ll keep you all posted. Pray that we will have wisdom and discernment in this situation.

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3 Comments

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  1. Hey Nan, I sure hope it works out. Trixie has had two incidents when she barked at my gal. Both times were when she kinda surprised Trixie when Trixie was asleep. I don’t know if it was just being caught by surprise or what…now our girlie knows not to approach the sleeping dog. Generally speaking, we have no probs, even when her hair is being pulled and children are trying to ride her like a horse, which isn’t cool when you only weigh 10 pounds and the kids are like 25 pounds or so. Anyway, maybe this was just an isolated incident!

  2. My dog has done this twice in the three years we have owned her. Each time she was startled out of a deep sleep by a sudden noise and seemed disoriented.I wouldn’t panic too much about it.The only thing you can do is teach the kids some rules about the dog and try to instill in the dog that he/she is at the bottom of the family hierarchy….beneath the kids.Our dog came from the shelter and although she has never done anything bad to the kids, it took months for me to feel completely comfortable trusting her. Now, I never worry about it. She has proven herself to be a good dog.Hopefully, as time goes by, the dog will earn your trust.

  3. Nan, Have your son be the one who feeds the dog. With this he will know who is the boss also with you standing over the two of them have him sit by the dog dish and put his hand in while he is eating(I suggest you do this first) If he gives any sign of an Issue with you in his dish take the dish away. Then feed him piece by piece by hand. This lets the dog know who is the master and the food giver. Also, Have your son sit with the dog. Have the dog lay on the floor and have your son put his hands on the dogs head and on the paws. do not let the dog put his head on his lap or put his paws on top of your sons. This is another way of showing that your son is the dominent one not the dog. I stress though to do all this with caution. You never know how a dg will react. Alos never ever say my dog does not bite that is just a lawsuit waiting to happen. ( Just say that he has never bite anyone yet)(all dog will bite if provocted to)

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