Introducing the next puppy tale of “you can’t judge a book by its cover.” We were absolutely blessed to have the opportunity to work with this sweet, sensitive, non-stereotypical Labrador. And, every time we walked through the neighborhood with him, he drew a crowd. People literally looked like they were unconsciously being pulled to pet this handsome hunk, much to his chagrin. Read on to find out how you can help dogs like Buzzy better learn that the world is not so scary.
How did you and your dog find each other?
After saying good-bye to my beloved 14 ½-year-old Chocolate Lab, I decided it was time to bring puppy love into my life again. When I went to meet with the breeder to select my new bundle of joy, there were a couple of pups I quickly ruled out – one that I was sure would be a wild and crazy dog FOREVER and the one that gave me side-eye. I then asked the breeder what she thought about the little chunk of chocolate goo (with sweet puppy eyes) that was sitting on my feet. When she replied, “Well, he is the second naughtiest”. I quickly declared him mine. After all, he was not the worst puppy of the litter. I took that as a stellar rating.
What is the biggest assumption people make based on your dog’s looks?
Everyone, even my mailman, tells me “oh, Labradors, they are just the best, so outgoing, so friendly with people, even strangers. And, of course, they just love kids!” There is universal belief that every Lab is a super-outgoing, happy-go-lucky pup waiting to be loved up by everyone under the sun.
What personality trait does your dog possess that contradicts his or her physical appearance?
Four of the five Labs I have had the joy of sharing my life with have fit the super outgoing Labbie stereotype. But #4, my dear, mushy, cocoa-crush who now goes by Buzzy is the opposite of the crazy extroverted mold. Buzzy does not want strangers to pet, look at, or talk to him. Actually, do not even think about Buzzy, it will make him nervous. Simply put, he is socially awkward and completely defies what most folks assume to be the Labrador “standard.”
It breaks my heart when people, especially little kids, want to pet him and I have to tell them that Buzzy is shy and prefers not to be pet. Fortunately, I can offer up his more-than-willing, uber-friendly Black Lab brother for wet kisses and wiggles. That usually pacifies everyone. Thank goodness Buzzy’s canine sidekick happily accepts the petting that would terrify my tender chocolate boy.
What are the biggest obstacles you and your dog have overcome together? And, what was most helpful in helping you do so?
In Buzzy’s early days, he would be set-off by someone simply walking past us on the sidewalk. He had no tolerance whatsoever of people being in the same space, even if they did not try to interact with him. Buzzy would bark excessively to let the person know he was nervous. He would get so stressed out by a person ANYWHERE near him that he even lunged at people a few times.
To help Buzzy overcome his nervousness, I taught him to focus his attention elsewhere (on me) when strangers approached. He relaxed, knowing I would protect him. With practice and giving Buzzy treats when a dreaded stranger was even in eyesight, Mr. Gooey Goo realized that nothing scary occurs when a person walks past him. Now, we can pretty much walk by anyone without my shattery sweet boy getting nervous. I love seeing his new “no big deal” attitude.
If you could make a sign for the world to see to better understand your dog’s individual needs, what would it say?
Buzzy’s sign would say “I’m super sweet but super shy so please give me my space” in VERY LARGE PRINT so people do not have to get too close to him to read it.
Anything else you want to share?
Once Buzzy gets to know someone and they are in his trust circle, he is a total love bug. It just takes him a little longer than the Labrador cliche’ before he becomes carefree and goofy around people. To really know Buzzy is to cherish him, even if he is a little quirky.
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