Weds 9th June: Carefully laid plans

As usual (always?) my carefully thought out schedule for the day didn’t work as planned.  What I had arranged was that I’d be at AFCD at 2pm and leave by 2.30pm after having picked up the two doglets that were ready to go.  Then I could be at Tai Po early enough to sort out some new shelter arrangements for the dogs that needed it.

The first thing to throw the timing out of whack was that my lift (from the mailing address office in Aberdeen to AFCD in Pokfulam) got lost, so we arrive thirty minutes later than anticipated.  Then rather than just the two doglets, a whole load of new dogs had arrived, many of them surrenders meaning that they were free to go without the standard four day wait.  They included two ten-year olds, a Pekingese and a golden retriever, and a two-year old sheltie who actually also looked the same age as the others.  I only had three travel crates with me, so the small dogs got priority and I promised the retriever (and others) that I’d be back.

Both the peke and the sheltie were well overweight, something that might be expected in a ten year-old (although not at all necessary), but is terrible to see in a young dog.  The poor sheltie could barely walk as it had no muscle in its back legs, and it had obviously never been out of its home before, something that was evident from its behaviour.  As well as growling at me and backing into a corner when I went into the kennel, it was the first time that I have ever seen a pet dog do a “crocodile roll” when I tried to lead it out. 

This is something that many stray dogs so when they’re not used to having anything round their necks, and their only previous experience was the dog catcher’s noose.  They roll and roll, trying to free themselves, but actually only tightening the looped leash around their necks.  Then they start to bite at the leash, so frantically that their gums start to bleed, and often defacate at the same time.

I’ve seen this behaviour so many times that I can almost always handle it, and know what to do to calm the dog so that I can loosen the leash and then either coax the dog into a crate or pick it up.  With the sheltie, it finally relented and agreed to walk with me to the “checking out” desk, but it was clearly as traumatised by the experience as any of the stray dogs are.

All of this took more time than I had bargained for (one of the doglets was also not keen on the idea of getting into a crate or being microchipped), so by the time the van arrived at Tai Po it was already quite late.

It was also the first time that the SPCA mobile clinic had come to us, something that will be a weekly event from now on and a very welcome one.  It meant that the new dogs could immediately have a health check, vaccination, heartworm test etc, although we agreed that the sheltie’s blood test could wait until she was more settled and she just got a quick jab for now. She and the fat peke will join the other small dogs in the house, and hopefully she’ll start to lose weight as she gains confidence.

So by the time all of the dogs had been seen and sorted out, it was already time for me to leave.  Where does all the time go?

I got a rap on the knuckles (not literally) from our trainer, Mark, for my comment yesterday about Murphy and his guilty behaviour. Dogs don’t feel guilt, and the “look” that many people say is a guilty one (after a dog has done something like having a toilet accident), has nothing to do with guilt but is more fearful anticipation of an owner’s response, though to what the dog isn’t sure.  This is common in situations where an owner is regularly out for long periods and  finds that a dog has done something “naughty” in his/her absence.  The dog then gets punished but has no idea why, as in its mind it can’t connect the deed carried out some time before with the punishment. The dog then starts to connect an owner coming home with being punished, so the “guilty” look is simply anticipation of the owner’s displeasure and subsequent punishment.

However, as I have never punished Murphy and didn’t even have time to respond to finding my underwear on the bed before Murphy came creeping towards me, I can’t really explain what this behaviour is or where it came from.  I know that dogs vary in intelligence immensely, just as people do, and Murphy is one very smart cookie.  Minky and Sparkle, for example, have absolutely no idea about ‘good’ or ‘bad’ behaviour, and no matter how loudly I let my displeasure be known (after finding yet another stolen and chewed item), it makes no difference and they continue to bounce around, joshing and playing with each other, as if nothing has happened.  They simply don’t have the intelligence to even notice the difference in my mood, let alone feel any remorse.

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