Today (my youngest spawn) Zor and I went to Woofstock.  That’s a pet health fair held annually as a fund raiser at Wiggley Field next door to the dog park.  We took the dogs.  It stressed Cobie out; I knew it would.  It’s hot, it’s crowded, it’s noisy–these are things that stress me out.  Still, he only bristled at one other dog, and he came away like a good boy when I hauled on his leash and said come on. 

I’m not generally in favor of snapping around on a leash to correct a dog, but when he starts to bluster, I use what’s fasted so things don’t escalate.  Cobie actually likes other dogs; it’s the people that stress him out.  Me too!  I used to blame this on myself; if I were not such a hermit, maybe Cobie would be better socialized.  Then I realized one of his parents was also a nervous and spooky dog.  Now I think some of his spookiness is probably due to genetics, and maybe it’s for the best that he’s with a less social person who doesn’t mind not having a lot of company. 

Kelly, on the other hand, was excited but well-behaved.  That is, until she stepped out of her harness because she wanted to go off and pee in peace.  Afterwards she stood and let Zor swoop her up.  She wasn’t too crazy about going into the harness again, but she didn’t actively fight, either.  She’s my sociable dog.  I try not to think how much easier life would be if I only had Kelly.  I love Cobie a tremendous lot, but the truth is, he’s a huge pain in the butt–literally and metaphorically.   When Kelly gets excited she makes an ear-splitting ki-yi-yark! sound.  When Cobie gets excited he tries to yank me off my feet, and since he weighs a hundred pounds I figure it’s just a matter of time until he succeeds.

A fight did erupt while we were there, and I was thankful it didn’t involve either of my kids.  Well…sometimes I say Cobie “picks a fight” because I’m afraid that’s what it looks like to the owner of the other dogs, but I’ve never seen him flare up unless another dog was crowding and bullying.  Then he bristles up and skins his lips back from his ever so long teeth and snap-snap-snaps scant fractions of an inch from the other dog’s face.  I consider this a big bluster and a flat out warning:  Knock it off, Chief, I’m not kidding.  But I do worry how other people perceive it.  And of course, I get him away from whatever dog has pushed his buttons asap.

At Woofstock you pay $10 for a punch card and then go around to the vendors and pick up freebies.  It’s like trick-or-treat for dogs.  Cats aren’t disallowed, but most cats probably would not enjoy a day there.  It’s really hard to keep an eye on an antsy dog while you’re talking to vendors.  My husband was supposed to go with us this year, but for the third year in a row something came up.  I had to agree that what came up was an opportunity, but he’s promised no matter what comes up next year he’s going with us to hold Cobie part of the time.

The other reason he has to be watched is because everyone wants to pet him, but Cobie doesn’t want to be petted.  You’d think, or I would, that people at a dog health fair would be able to read dog body language well enough to know, especially when there was a big display about dog body language!  But they don’t.  Ordinarily Cobie loves kids, but he was clearly signalling, no kids either.  So I felt on edge trying to keep people away.  A couple of kids tried to sneak up and pet him anyway, even after I told them not to and he hid behind me.

Dear world, a dog that is hiding does not want you to pet him!

Lots of people want to be the exception.  They want to be the person Cobie likes.  Cobie only likes the people who gave him to us, and us, and one friend of Zor’s.  If you want him to like you, you have to come over a lot and ignore him until he relaxes.  That might take weeks.  Oh hell, I have no idea how long that would take.  No one except the one friend has tried it (did I mention I’m a borderline hermit?)  This is just my theory.  I think if someone came over a lot and ignored him, he’d eventually relax.

Meanwhile Kelly will be your friend.  She loves everybody!

Meanwhile I wish I had more places to take Cobie where he could be around people who would ignore him.  It’s sad that people stress him out,  because when he’s not stressed he’s an amazing varmint.