Dusty T. Dog Meets New People and a Little Boy

Dusty is a strange dog. I was told he would be when I adopted him at the Bonita Animal Shelter. They told me he couldn’t be a pet; he was too traumatized to become socialized. He would be dangerous. He would grow up to be a big dog — 80 pounds — a Dobie/Lab mix.

I’ll agree that when he’s barking and running along the front fence with his hackles up, he’s scary. Back in Descanso I had neighbors who filed a complaint — but when the animal control officer came out to see if my dog was dangerous (or, as the neighbors had alleged, that I was “hoarding” dogs and not removing “fecal matter” from “the premises”  — I had 3 on 1/4 acre, a 100 square foot dog run, a fenced yard and my dogs come in and out of the house as they pleased — and, at that moment, I was performing my daily ritual of “removing fecal matter from the premises”) the animal control officer found a nervous — but friendly — young neutered male dog. “This is dog paradise,” he said. “Dusty here (the officer was scratching Dusty’s ears and Dusty was leaning against the officer’s leg) is a pup. He’ll calm down. Your yard is securely fenced. Seems to me your neighbors might have an axe to grind. There are people like that everywhere, even out here in the country.”  The fact is, my neighbor had tried to provoke Dusty into biting him…

Still, I don’t like Dusty’s exaggerated protective behavior, but I love Dusty. To help him (and me) I invested in professional training for him and that made a real difference in his happiness. All of this was eight years ago.

Now that Dusty has a “little sister” (” ” because 1) she’s not his sister, 2) she’s not little) he has been helping me teach her  to walk on a leash and to respond promptly to other important commands. At first, he wasn’t sure about her. He wasn’t always very nice to her, but now, after miles and miles of leash walks and nights sharing the living room floor, he clearly loves her. He’s also becoming a better dog.

A few evenings ago we were on our walk and a little boy (three? four?) on a bike saw us. “Can I pet your dogs?”

“Sure!” The little boy waited for his parents, and I made the dogs sit calmly on the grass. When the parents came out the little boy said, “She said I can pet her dogs. Can I?”


They all came over to me, gently and calmly, even the little boy. I thought “What a cool family!” I said, “Dusty will bark and he’s scary, but he is actually a sweet and friendly dog. He just thinks he has to do that.”

“That’s OK.”

“Bear here, she’s a puppy. She knows not to jump up, but…”

“That’s OK.”

“That’s a big puppy! How old is she?”

“Seven months.”

“She’s going to be a big dog.” That amuses me whenever I hear it because Bear is already a big dog…

Bear, of course, went right to the little boy and Dusty barked fiercely. The mom looked a little nervous, but she believed I had Dusty under control (I did). Dusty began to mellow. The mom petted him and then the dad (the little boy and Bear were focused on each other). Dusty was so happy to have people pay attention to him and pet him, AND he really liked the people. When the man began to straighten up after petting the dogs, Dusty jumped up gently and gave the man a kiss. That’s not the most common gesture in Dusty’s repertoire. I said, “He kissed you. It’s gross, but it’s special.”

“I know,” said the man. “Good boy, Dusty.” ❤

I’m proud of Dusty T. Dog and all the progress he’s made from being a scared, anti-social pup to being the dog he is today — and you CAN teach old dogs new tricks if you have faith in them.

15 thoughts on “Dusty T. Dog Meets New People and a Little Boy

    • Humans think they know everything, even when they know they don’t they’ll save face. Dogs? At least Dusty wants very much to please me. There are some things that are so hard-wired into him (protecting the periphery) that I cannot train him not to do them. I’ve tried everything — including electric bark collars. He preferred being burned to shutting up. Finally, I took out the battery and left the collar on Dusty to pacify my neighbors. At least they THOUGHT I was attempting to stop Dusty’s barking. If they had EVER come into my yard, they’d have seen a very different dog. But Dusty is at least half Doberman AND he desperately loves his home, his human and his harem. When all of us go on walks together — besides attracting stares and comments like, “Gotta’ few dogs there, lady?” — Dusty continually checks to make sure his dog “sisters” are all-right. ❤

      • Love the comment, “Gotta a few dogs there, lady.” It seems that most folks think that more than one animal is beyond normal. I hate that aspect of how others see a pet owner that has more than oen dog or cat. Personally< I like being surrounded by my pets. I'm never lonely and when outside I have a smile on my face when I watch my dogs run and play and then come back to be for some petting and affirmation. (Sorry, I deviated from the crux of your post and your answer to me.)

        • It’s ok. 🙂 Most people don’t know how much easier two dogs are to live with than just one. They think one dog is a POA and a lot of trouble. They don’t realize it’s because the dog is 1) not human and 2) lonely. As soon as I got a puppy for my first dog, Truffle, I saw the difference in her life. I’ve had a few dogs who couldn’t fit in, and that’s agonizing, but most of them have become good friends and loved each other. I guess if someone hasn’t tried it, they don’t know. I don’t regard my dogs as pets or as “children” but as friends.

  1. Tabby tells me that Dusty T. is the only canine that indulges in intelligent conversations with her. He is dog of the year according to Tabby. And every self-respecting canine should bark, it just belongs to their character. She is sure that one day Bear will communicate, but only with the permission from Dusty.

    • Bear has a pretty big vocabulary, but only a few words in the universal mammalian language Dusty and Tabby use to communicate. Dusty thinks Tabby is great — he’s learned so much about feline behavior and thinking that he’s very curious about every cat we see on our walks… Today he tried very hard to meet a yellow tiger cat. 😉

    • They had two dogs — one a very sweet, mellow, brilliant Aussie and the other the yappiest most aggressive little miniature Schnauzer. They got the Schnauzer a few years after I got Dusty and once that little guy came along, they stopped complaining about Dusty. 🙂 The guy was just an a-hole.

  2. So sweet. They are lucky to have a good mom like you, Martha. We have no problem until a neighbor here 1/3 of the year arrives with his yappy loud dog that they leave outside all the time. She arouses all the other dogs in the neighborhood and then he complains about our dogs barking! I have taken to bringing my dogs in every night no matter what the weather. Right now all is quiet. Ahhhhhh. http://judydykstrabrown.com/2015/10/18/acclaim/

    • I’ve had neighbors like that — tied up their rottweiler puppy and she barked and cried all night outside my bedroom window. I went and talked to them about it and their answer? “We can’t bring her in. It’s a dog.” I called the cops…

  3. Dusty got something that a lot of dogs – bought or adopted do NOT get – an owner willing to spend the time to help them adjust. I tell people who ask (and it’s a surprisingly large number…I guess I’m the ‘dog lady’ in my neighborhood) that yappy or barky dogs are usually either nervous or scared. In Dusty’s case it appears he is quite protective and the training you did with him was vital. Good for you and lucky Dusty! He’s loved!

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