Humans Are Exhausting

Wren on July 3rd, 2014

Dana is ready for a nap as folks divide up donations from the local farmer's market behind her.

Dana, our Akbash Livestock Guard Dog pup, is getting used to people. When she came to us a week ago, she had mostly bonded to the goats and dogs in her herd of birth. She came with two of those goats and she quickly made friends with our bottle baby goat and our eight month old LGD. But she just begrudgingly tolerated us human types.

Other than a quick visit with the landlord’s grandchildren, her first exposure to people other than her handlers was last Saturday’s Food Not Bombs public feeding at Chico, California’s City Plaza. Suddenly she was surrounded by cars, adults, children, lapdogs, and the Chico summer heat.

Our Sheltie Tuatha came along as he does most Saturdays. He seemed to enjoy initiating Dana to the public fountain, a great way for furry folks to cool off. Dana got plenty wet, but she mostly just watched the human children jump through the spray while Tuatha barked at the water.

After a few interactions with humans, Dana being passive, as if leaving her body, she finally started to approach people proactively and she seemed to enjoy their touch and talking. By the end of the event, a very tired, wet puppy laid next to our friend Lisa, who gave her more touch.

Dana, wet from playing in the fountain, snuggles with her new human friend, Lisa, as the Food Not Bombs feeding winds down.

A few days later, Dana went with me to the feed store and One Mile at Chico’s Bidwell Park, where hundreds of people were cooling off in a pool. Dana was fine, trotting along with me on her leash, no longer doing that puppy death pull. She was curious about people lying down sunbathing, but not enough to trot right up and introduce her cute self. But when one woman with a large family fell in love with her, Dana got lots of attention.

After these trips out into the human world, Dana sees me and runs to me, behavior she wasn’t doing before. Just today, she sought me out and let me rub her belly for several minutes. She does play posture with me and generally has accepted me as part of the herd. Instead of pretending that my partner C.T. is invisible, she’s interested and affectionate.

How will she be with strangers as she matures? As an LGD, she has the genetic programming and early socialization to be wary of strangers until her humans show that they’re acceptable. If her deformed paw or other circumstances determine that she will be a general farm dog or even a pet, we want her to have good human socialization.

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