Recently, my boyfriend and I went on a 21 hr road trip to visit with family and friends. We decided to bring our rescue dachshund since my parents were dying to meet their granddog and he has always loved car rides. The initial ride was great. He insisted on sitting on our laps even though we bought a car seat especially for him and when it was night he slept in a makeshift bed in the back seat. It wasn’t until the 19th hour that he began getting a little stir crazy but so were we.
Once we made it to my parents house who have about 1/2 acre of fenced in grass we let him free. For a city dog, he was confused and didn’t know what to do with all that free space. He has been on a leash almost always unless we head to the dog park. He stood on the precipice of grass and looked back at me almost as if to ask, “Is this for me?” Once I encouraged him he ventured only a few feet, did his business, and ran back to me.
Upon meeting my parents, he hated my father. My father who is loud, tall and speaks mostly with his hands completely freaked out my poor little dachshund. Ringo just barked at him for a good 30 seconds until my father crouched down and offered his hand. He sniffed it quickly and scurried away. We think Ringo was wronged by a man at some point in his young life before we rescued him so I wasn’t surprised. It took him almost 3 weeks to warm up to my boyfriend. As long as my father was sitting, not walking away, not talking loudly or breathing, Ringo didn’t seem to mind him. On the other hand, Ringo was really confused by my mother. Ringo almost ALWAYS loves all women but my mother is in a wheelchair which presented a new obstacle for my dog to understand. He didn’t quite understand what it was and why there were wheels and if it was safe for him to approach this robot type thing. The first time my mother held him she tried to wheel a couple of feet and Ringo squealed like a baby. We ended up removing the wheelchair from the scenario just to see him react to mother. Once my mother was sitting on the couch without the foreign metal contraption, Ringo was cuddling with her for hours.
Upon meeting the rest of my family and friends, Ringo was not so welcoming to all the new faces. He either barked or shyed away from all the commotion. He is use to just the two of us and we have a quiet household. This new environment was a lot for him to handle which in turned stressed me out. I began making excuses for his behaviour to my friends and family who didn’t quite understand his unfriendly attitude. It wasn’t like he was attacking anyone but rather cautiously skeptical of anyone on two legs. The only people he seemed to warm up to were those who had a quieter demeanor. My Uncle and cousin who are both very soft spoken men immediately won his love. I started to feel bad because here was a dog that I love and who is such a great little guy but he was he just barking at all my friends and family whose voice was louder than his liking. After 3 or 4 days of our 8 day trip, he seemed to warm up to my father though he still was apprehensive of my mother’s wheelchair. He would still bark at my father when he entered in a room but it was more or less a ‘welcoming’ bark with a wagging tail.
It wasn’t until this trip that opened up my eyes about my dog and his personality. I never really thought about rescue dogs and how they needed to be handled with kid gloves because my whole life I had been around dogs who we got when they were puppies. All my dogs had known they were loved and never saw any unkindness. I have never had to teach my dog to trust people. It made me angry when some less understanding people I introduced him to seemed to judge him for his lack of trust. Clearly this dog was wronged by someone in his previous life and shame on them for blaming him for it. (end of rant)
For the most part, Ringo enjoyed being doted on by my mother and the amount of treats my father had to feed to him to win his trust/love.