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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
We went to a performing arts fair yesterday with Austin. It was so crowded, people and dogs everywhere, clowns, people on stilts, those crazy bicycles with one huge wheel and one little one, people juggling fire, people dressed up in wacky costumes all painted up in blacklight paint....it was an assault on the senses, lol, so I decided it would be a really good opportunity for Austin to get some much-needed socialization.

See, he's a really good, sweet dog, but as he's gotten older, he's gotten more and more intolerant of "scary" people. Or at least, what HE thinks are scary people
. He's started barking at people when we're in the car....which has almost caused an accident on more than one occasion, when he's BOOMED that bark right in my right ear. I swear, I can feel it all the way in my toes. Scares the crap out of me. And when we're at home, he will hear a car pull up (or simplyd rive by) and he's in the window growling. I knew I had a protective breed when I got him, and really, I'm fine with most of it, considering I'm home alone from 6 pm till 5 am most nights.

But I want him to learn that not every single person that walks by the car or our house is a threat, ya know? If he barks at everybody, then how will I know when the threat is really real?


So anyway, we decided to take him to the festival. I'm going to try to take him out more to just meet people and make friends for the next few months. He was so good. Didn't pull his leash, just stayed by my side. People were (understandably) kind of stand-offish at first, but the longer we were there, the more people came up to meet him.

It was really cute...there was a group of women with kids, all standing around chatting, and Austin and I were checking out the fountain nearby. They noticed us, but seemed cautious to approach. I didn't blame them, they had babies in strollers and wagons, and I would be the same way with a big dog that was the perfect height to take off a face. But then, one lady came up with her toddler to meet him, and he was beside himself with joy. His boys have been gone for several weeks in Amsterdam, you see, and he simply worships kids. Then, all the other ladies came up to meet him, and before I knew it I was surrounded by kids and women, all oohing and ahhing over my dog.

I eat that stuff with a spoon with whipped cream and chocolate syrup. lol.

Austin got to meet his very first Chihuahua, too. We were walking by, and the little guy was vibrating with excitement, wanting to meet Austin, but I kept my distance, because I've found that small dog owners are quite possible more cautious around big dogs than parents of small children.

But SHE approached, told me how much her little dog looooved big dogs, and Austin and the little man had us in hysterics with their play bowing and darting back and forth. It was nice.

All in all, I think it was an excellent day for my big goof. He was calm and didn't bark at anybody, not even the stilt walkers or clowns (they made me nervous, lol). He did stick his nose in a lady's dreads, though. She wa sitting on the grass, and he was intensely curious about her hair. He dragged me over to her, she laughed and hugged him, and he was sniff-sniffing all over her head and ears.

But anyway, it was a lot of fun for all of us. Except for the one lady at the end of the night who reacted with terror when she saw Austin.....started to walk past us (Austin was sitting calmly by my side) and then snapped, is that THING friendly???

Wow, I almost lost it then. My tongue was bleeding from biting it so hard. But, except for that, we had so much fun....I can't wait until this weekend, we can go to the square again. Stuff going on there almost everyw eekend in the summer.
 

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Awwww how fun!!!!

It's great that he reacted positively to everything! I've been taking Thorn with me most places where I can (outdoor farmers' market, park, trips out of town, etc.) so that he'll get some interaction with people and dogs. He takes it in stride - I guess as a pup, he doesn't have any negative associations yet, so I'm trying to keep it that way.

People go nuts over him - an 'ordinary' dog will be passed up as people make a beeline for Thorn, asking "what breed is that?" He's pretty flashy, blue heelers aren't that uncommon but not commonly seen walking with a family in public I reckon.

More than one person thinks he's a mutt, and I'm getting tired of "why does he have his tail?"
(why do people think Australian Cattle Dogs need their tails docked?) and when I tell people his breed they say, "Oh, an Australian Shepherd!"
and I say, "NO, an Australian Cattle Dog" - of course when I say "heeler" they know what I mean though.

Ooops... did I just hijack your thread?

Thanks for sharing your cool story!
alison
 

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That's great that Austin did so well! We were down there just for the beginning--had to go paint the apt. we manage, so we couldn't stay (we were so bummed, we love Tsunami!) DS was in the parade (he went to the Tsunami circus camp, which was very cool; he loved it!). There were some really cool dogs there--a Tibetan Terrier, Corgie, Boxer, etc, but we didn't see any RR's, or we'd have said hi. We didn't bring Aengus, but we brought him to Granite Creek Park the next day while dh painted, and he did so well--I was really impressed and pleasantly surprised. He only got over-excited upon being greeted when the person greeting him was over-excited. I think he's behaving very well overall for a 13 week-old pup. Training has really paid off. No one recognized Aengus' breed at all--shows how rare it is to spot a Gordon Setter. A lot of people thought he was some type of spaniel, someone thought he was a doberman mix because of his coloring. But everyone thought he was pretty, which he is, of course!

I think we're going to take Aengus to the Bluegrass Festival on the Square next weekend. The kids will be at my parent's, so we'll just have Aengus to wrangle. Will you be there, mesa? If you see a Gordon Setter or we spot a Rhodesian, we'll have to introduce ourselves and our boys.

And how dare anyone call your beautiful dog a "thing!"
 

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Quote:
But anyway, it was a lot of fun for all of us. Except for the one lady at the end of the night who reacted with terror when she saw Austin.....started to walk past us (Austin was sitting calmly by my side) and then snapped, is that THING friendly???
To those people I either reply, "Friendlier than most people," with an accusing tone. Or I reply, "Nope." If my dog has already barked or growled (rare) I explain that he's a great judge of character. I'd rather keep their nervous energy away from me, my dogs, and our pleasant outings anyway. I'm glad you had such a great experience. Happy socializing!
 

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Oh, duh, just realized I didn't read carefully enough, and you'll be at the square again this coming weekend. I hope we run into each other! Look for a little black and tan pup, about 25 lbs, floppy ears.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
COOL! The boys won't be there, though....they're not coming home from Amsterdam until the last week in June. You'll get to meet Matt and I, though. That'll be so much fun. We were there from about 4 pm until 10 pm. Austin met a tiny little girl who was dancing in the grass wearing nothing but a pink leotard and tutu, no shoes....he was captivated lol.

As for the "thing" lady.......I ALMOST replied with, "are you?", but I was standing with Matt's coworker (he does security at the courthouse, and we had found someone's purse)....and I reallllly didn't want to snark at her and possibly get him in trouble for "not sticking up for her." It was strange, because there were at least 2 dogs there that were in desperate need of some basic obedience, snarling and lunging at other dogs passing at some distance, but Austin wasn't doing anything. Man, I was steamed about that for at least 2 hours after we went home.

I swear, I'm turning into one of those nutjobs who treats her dog like her child....kind of, anyway. I have the exact same reaction when someone criticizes one of my kids for whatever reason. Mama bear, big time.

Daekini, I know what you mean. I get that even more when I take both dogs out....lots of people know what Austin is, interestingly enough, but hardly anyone knows what a basenji is. I get asked a lot if he's a pit bull (!), fox terrier, rat terrier, shiba inu, etc, etc etc. I think they think he's a pit simply because of his brindle coloring, shiba because of the tail (definitely NOT because of his coloring,
) and I'm not sure why people think he's a rat or fox terrier. I see no resemblance there. Maybe if he was a tri. A lady even asked me at the Flagstaff DOG SHOW if he was a rat terrier. You'd think show folks would know better, lol.

On the mutt thing, at least 4 different people have asked me if Austin is a ridgeback MIX. LOL....Matt always cringes when that happens, for some reason he thinks I get offended when people make an honest mistake, but honestly, I treasure any questions people ask...I love to educate about my breeds,


But I think you're right, people aren't used to seeing Cattle Dogs out in public. I see them a lot here, but mostly in people's pickup trucks and front yards. Hahaha, they actually think he's an Aussie? That's great. You should get a t shirt with all the questions and answers that people always ask you....there's one for ridgebacks, I think it's pretty cute...I can't show you a picture right now because the ridgeback rescue site's store is down for nationals, but I'll get a link for you when it's back up.
 
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