“If a person only has three friends, we call them maladjusted, but that’s what we do to our
dogs,” says Brian Lee of Way of the Dog.
“When dogs aren’t friendly, the owner’s response is to restrict them even further. In the house. No interactions with other people or dogs. What they should do is exactly the opposite!”
Brian, who’s done this work for 27 years, is helping me to make sure that Greta and Marlowe get off to the best start.
Brian gives lots of help with both general knowledge—“dogs are extra active morning and evening because that’s when they would hunt”—and with practicalities—“get Precision gates, available only at Petco”—and most important with socialization advice and suggestions.
“In the next month they should meet 1,000 people and dogs. Old people, young people, children. People of all races and colors. Children. People in uniforms. Did I mention children?
“Take them out as much as you can. Separately and together. Have people over. Have dogs over. Take them to the Hermosa Pier, so they see bicycles and skateboards. We want to give them as many experiences as possible, so when they encounter new experiences later, they’ll be interested and curious. Not afraid.”
Today it was the pet store for more food. The other day it was the farmer’s market picnic
area. We’ve been to block parties. Had children over. Walked up to policemen. My favorite is when otherwise tough-looking boys go instantly gooey and use baby talk.
“Would you like to pet my puppies?”
No one has said ever no.
I’ve given them baths, trimmed their nails, and pass them over to every child I see.
Greta and Marlowe take it all in stride. The giant bulldog, waving his stump at Pitfire Pizza? They loved him. The new “baby” toys Harper and Ellie shared were a big hit.
Occasionally Marlowe cries or Greta shakes at a new experience—never the other way around. But they take most everything as it comes so we must be doing something right. They learned the dog door lickety-split. And are using the outdoors mostly.
In three weeks they’ve almost doubled in size, to 3.9 pounds each.
There was a bit of squawking over the vacuum. But I sat nearby without babying them and soon enough they were quiet and watchful.
“Our goal,” says Brian, “is to do a lot of the work in the first in the first two months, so you’ll need to do much less work later on.”
Let’s hope so.
I could sure use a nap.