Saturday, November 19, 2016

The Dog named Rigby, formerly known as Bill

Rigby, the dog formerly known as Bill, is now seven.  He's a chow muttt who is cinnamon brown from top to bottom, including his eyes and nose.  We adopted him a year ago from Hong Kong dog rescue where he had been a resident for three years.  We could tell he was a sweetheart with a gentle disposition, so that and a high recommendation for him as an adoptee who could easily adjust to a cat were enough for us.

I find it ironic that the most well-behaved dog we've owned had lived outside of a family situation for three years.  I don't know why he's so good, but he is.  Mostly.

First of all, Rigby knows how to walk.  He walks beside me without pulling.  He can be let off the leash and will stay close by, come when called, and stand still to have the leash reapplied.  He is attentive and eager to please.  He's easy around other dogs who are in good balance, and defers to my "alpha-ness" around dogs who are too hyper or aggressive.  So he is always a pleasure to walk.

He doesn't bark.  He doesn't enter rooms that he shouldn't enter.  He doesn't jump up on beds or couches.  He doesn't steal food off the counter.  He doesn't snap at anyone or get upset when you are near his dish.  He doesn't wake you up in the middle of the night needing to go out.  (Although he does snore.)  He also doesn't lick you, though that part I wish he would do.  He's just an all around great companion.

He has been learning over the course of this last year to "be a dog", that is to say, to play.  It took him quite awhile to play with Jigs our cat, but now he chases or bats playfully at Jigs almost every day.  At first he didn't know what to do with a kong, but he has now figured out it is fun to try to get the treat out.  He still doesn't have a clue about what to do with a ball.

For a long time I thought he was a bit stupid because he would always stop at the wrong floor of our apartment building when we would return from a walk.  I couldn't imagine why he couldn't figure out we live two floors up, not one.  But my understanding of his intelligence quotient increased dramatically when he started having separation anxiety and proceeded to figure out how to escape from our apartment.  Somehow - and I still have not witnessed this in person - he manages to pull the handle down and in just enough to wiggle the door open and escape.  From there he pushes a second door and takes the flight of steps leading to either outside or more flights of stairs which take him to the apartment of a dog-friend of his.

Once he started escaping, we had to figure out how to stop him and change his behavior.  It took months, literally.  We were at our wits end, really, days away from taking him back to the rescue center, when something finally worked!  Pheromones.   I bought a diffuser that secretes mommy-dog pheromones which keep puppies calm.  After attempts at crate training, noise training, tying him to a door handle indoors, and I don't know what-all, these invisible pheromones seem to have done the trick.

I'm quite grateful for that.  Yes, we have a two damaged doors and one damaged piece of furniture from Rigby's days of insanity, but hopefully that is all behind us now.  I'm hoping we have him around for many years to come.