From Chapter 1-- Dogland
When Tod and I adopted Venus, she wasn’t leash trained. Her previous owners lived in an unincorporated village with no animal control officer. Venus had been allowed to roam the streets. When she returned she was the lady of the house and slept on the couch. In
dogdom, she was a free spirit. In human terms, she was a tramp.
As a result, whenever we let her off-leash she bolted and we had to track her down. Before we could teach her to follow commands off-leash we had to train her on the leash. For the first couple months Venus went everywhere on a leash, including Dogland. Early on in our training, Carol and Richard confronted Tod and me at the park.
“Why do you keep her on leash?” Richard demanded.
“Because we’re training her,” Tod said.
“Seems kind of cruel when all the other dogs get to run around off-leash,” Carol said.
“I realize she’s big but she’s not quite a year old. Still a pup. She was never leash trained. We had to start somewhere,” I said.
“Why don’t you just let her go and see what happens?” Richard suggested.
“We tried that on the BLM land,” Tod said. “She ran away.”
“We found her a half hour later herding a sheep,” I said.
Carol laughed. “One sheep?”
“Yeah. Then it took us another half hour to find the rest of the herd,” Tod said.
“Just trust us, you guys,” I said. “We know what we’re doing. This will work. You’ll see.”
Within two months Venus walked off-leash at Dogland with the rest of the dogs.
When Richard saw her he said, “I gotta hand it to you. The leash training worked. She’s doing great.”
“Thanks.” I tossed a hefty stick in the river. Venus leaped in the air and splashed into the water after it.
“She doesn’t always bring it back,” Tod said. “But we figured out if we keep her busy chasing sticks, she doesn’t run away.”
“I should probably explain why we’re so fixated on Venus,” Carol said. “Just so you don’t think we’re rude—or crazy.” She told us about Gabriel. “She looks so much like him it’s spooky.”
“He lived in a cabin with me up in the mountains above Aspen for a year,” Richard said. “When we moved back to civilization he couldn’t handle it. He turned aggressive.”
“He killed our friend’s cat. He fought with other dogs, growled at kids,” Carol said. “He was no angel, let me tell you.”
“He never adjusted to town life,” Richard said. “But that’s a big problem with Akbash dogs. They have a wild streak.”
I was almost afraid to ask the question. “What happened to him?”
“He died from bloat when he was six,” Carol said.
I shook my head. “How sad.”
Venus had lost her stick so Tod found another and aimed close to the river’s edge. She raced over and pawed at it like a grizzly catching salmon. She picked it up in her teeth, tossed it, and splashed in after it again.
“Gabriel had a lot of anxiety,” Richard said. “We always said if you bred a Lab with an Akbash you’d have the perfect dog.”
“Except the woman we got her from said she’s part Great Pyrenees and part Lab,” I explained.
Venus dropped the stick at our feet. Throw it.
Richard stroked her wet head. “When I look at Venus I see Akbash. I see Gabriel.”
“I need to show you a photo of him,” Carol said. “In the meantime, Google Akbash dogs.”
But I didn’t want any part of the trouble they described. So I dismissed their wacky theory.
On the short drive home, Tod said, “You know, I have noticed how much Venus looks like those dogs that live with the sheep up on the ranch. I just didn’t know what they were called.”
I ignored him. “I think Gabriel was one of those dogs that’s hard to get over. And I think they’re transferring a lot of that onto Venus. But she’s not Gabriel.”
|Tibbetts with Venus and Zeus.|
Peggy Tibbetts is the author of the nonfiction dogoir, CrazyBitch: Living with Canine Compulsive Disorder. The Kindle Award for Excellence in nonfiction was awarded to Crazy Bitch in July 2014.
“Crazy Bitch is a great read. Not only is it an excellent look into the world of canine mental illness, but also in coping with bully behavior. Tibbetts writes in a style that draws you in, as if you’re a friend. Within a few pages, you’ll find yourself caring more than perhaps you’d like to about Venus and cheering on the author in her quest to provide her dog with the best life possible.” -- Sue Kottwitz, “Talking DogsBlog”
Visit Peggy's website.