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Six Weeks In: A Bodhi and Sierra Update

Updated: Jan 29, 2021

two dogs lying on floor, one with paw on the other

I’ve owed this update for some time, but to be honest, things have been so up and down with Bodhi that it would have been difficult to write until now. It has been a challenging time. The good news is that Bodhi and Sierra have, for the most part, settled down as far as playing nicely with each other. I do have to feed them separately, and any treats/chewies require that they be separated as well. I have begun to be able to keep them both in the house with very low-value chewies (antlers). Bodhi will periodically try to take Sierra’s chew right out of her mouth, and when she goes after him, I let her. The skirmishes are normally settled very quickly. You’d think he’d have learned by now, but…not so much.

Here’s the thing: Bodhi is a pushy, obnoxious adolescent who seems like he’s been raised by wolves. Wait, let’s not insult the wolves. Had Bodhi not been housebroken, I’d never believe that he’d even lived indoors before. It’s like I adopted a teenage frat boy. I expect to come home and find him with a keg of beer, a bunch of rowdy friends, Animal Planet blasting in the background, and destruction everywhere. Oh yes, the boy is destructive with a capital D! If I leave a paperback book lying out on the coffee table, I’m sure to find it completely shredded the next morning. Hand towels end up dragged out through the dog door. (On a positive note, he’s training me to put things away.) There are a multitude of other small things, and I should add that he’ll destroy things even when we’re at home but not in the same room. (Ironically, as I typed this, he shredded the corner of the dog bed.) Still, it’s the bigger things that are more troublesome, including one of the house phones. And oh, the outdoors…my husband had built a carpet-covered wooden ramp for Mojo, back when he was old and having hip trouble. That ramp is now covered in shreds of carpet, because Bodhi apparently thought tearing it off strip by strip would be a fun craft project. Oh, and then there’s the mini-fridge. One day I’d given both dogs marrow bones—the first and last time I’d done this, by the way. Sierra was outdoors with hers (she prefers the outdoors for chewing), Bodhi was indoors, and the dog door was closed. Because it was late and neither dog had finished, I decided to take each bone away and put them in the outdoor mini-fridge. My mistake was letting Bodhi see me do it.

destroyed mini-fridge

The extra-challenging part about the destruction is that if I catch him in the act and give him a strong verbal reprimand, Sierra is the one who cowers and looks “guilty”–she’s very sensitive–as Bodhi just sits there with a goofy look. It’s as though, as someone suggested, he’s a bit “special needs.” We’re now on reprimands with brief time outs.

Speaking of Sierra, Bodhi’s resource guarding of things, people (in a pushy, “I want the affection” way, more obnoxious than aggressive), locations, etc. is hard on her at times. Although I interfere when appropriate, I can’t manage things 24/7, and truly, I don’t want to have to. There are times when Sierra walks into the house very cautiously, looking to see whether Bodhi has picked something up that he might want to guard; or she’ll lie in an out of the way place such as wedged between the exercise machine and the wall so he can’t get to her, and she can see his approach. Although these things do not involve aggressive incidents, they do speak to the change in lifestyle that Sierra has undergone since Bodhi’s arrival. Sure, they play together and I do believe she likes having him here during those times. I also think she feels “suppressed” by his presence at other times. After all, she can’t just walk up and get petted like she used to without Bodhi trying to insert himself, or relax like she used to. And that, more than almost anything else, is troublesome.

We’re also working on Bodhi’s reactivity with other dogs. My husband takes Sierra out on the mornings I take Bodhi. This makes Sierra very happy, as she gets Alone Time with Daddy, and gets to go running at top speed (on a long line) through the arroyo after jack rabbits. This morning I took Bodhi to the local park to meet with our friends Kathy and Niko the Husky, and a friend of hers who recently adopted a sweet female spaniel-type mix who is non-reactive and dog-friendly. The first two thirds of the walk were spent working Bodhi at a bit of a distance, since he initially and periodically would lose it and begin barking/lunging toward the other dog. But by the last third of the walk he was much better, and toward the end, was even able to do a quick sniff at the other dog’s rear, and walk parallel a few feet away from her. Of course, getting Bodhi comfortable around other dogs is going to be a project.

I most certainly did not mean to adopt a project, but isn’t that always the way? I am glad Bodhi ended up with someone who is willing to work with him in a positive, gentle way on his issues, because although he’s a sweet, wonderful dog underneath it all, he can be a handful.

If I can live through Bodhi’s adolesence we’ll be fine.


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