This time last year I was doubtful that this day would come. All THREE dogs sitting quietly on the couch with the rest of the family.
Our two oldest are old pros at the ‘relax and cuddle’ game but our newest edition has been a work in progress for what feels like forever, even though it has only been a year.
While Isis started out as one of the cutest puppies in history:
She quickly lived up to her breed’s reputation of being ‘difficult.’ One description I read online described Siberian Huskies as “not first time dog owner dogs.” They are intelligent- like if she had thumbs she could do our taxes, kind of smart.
Unlike other highly intelligent breeds they are not really motivated by our approval. I had a Border Collie growing up (Tippy-the ‘typical’ Boarder Collie) and I witnessed first hand how high strung and neurotically obedient her brain could make her.
She was very into THE RULES and enforced them without fail with the other members of her pack. More than anything Tippy wanted to use her power for good, she lived for our family’s approval. She would chastise the other dogs by gnawing their ears when they did anything even a little out of line.
Isis… well. She lives for her own approval and has the brain power to get into (on top of or under) pretty much whatever she wants. Exhibit A:
Exhibit B: AKA- Why I’m glad we have glass doors.
She has figured how to open cabinets and (joy of joys) the doors in the house that have a long handle (all the bedrooms and bathroom)
Staying on her has been a constant and draining part of my life the past year. I dislike to motivate behavior through treats since the behavior magically ceases when there is no treat in hand and huskies are already notorious for ‘selective’ hearing.
Instead, we trained her the old fashion way- I’m the alpha and you are not. This resulted in her spending a lot of time on her back. It rarely requires any force at all. But it is the constant assertion of your dominance.
Frustrating as it has been the results have been worth it. She listens and for the most part stays out of things that are not hers. This is not because she could not get them, but she knows the consequences are consistent and not worth it.
I think establishing what is ‘not yours’ is super important in sharing a house with dogs. Further more she KNOWS when she is destroying something she shouldn’t or when she is getting away with more than she should.
A lot of people will say that dogs “don’t understand” what you are talking about and their dogs are right behind them going “yah, we have no clue. Now go over there so I can eat your shoes.”
She is far from perfect and even in these new moments of calm you can tell she is spinning inside-waiting.
Now she knows where, when and how it is appropriate to let the crazy out and I am very grateful for this hard won mutual understanding.
There are still many things that I know will not change, like her obsession with sleeping on my snow boots and other shoes.
And I am quite sure that this boasting will be followed up by some amazing breach in obedience. But right now I am happy with our youngest and I thought she deserved some recognition…I’m sure I will regret it later.