We have three dogs at our house that we could take anywhere and it’s a delight to take them out with us. And then there’s Morgan, the less than perfect dog. Taking her somewhere with us requires a certain amount of fortitude and we generally have to mentally prepare ourselves before we leave the house with her.
In the car, she is, ahem, heck on wheels. She’s reactive to just about everything. I don’t know what a motorcycle ever did to her, but she will totally lose her nut if she sees one behind us on the road. For that matter, she’s not happy to see a car, a truck, a plane, a train or even a leaf behind us, either. If you ever see a movie where a guard dog is barking uncontrollably, that’s a pretty accurate representation of Morgan in the car. It makes getting from point A to point B with her a bit stressful for everyone involved.
In the beginning, she rode in the car with no problems. She used to be able to handle being loose in the car, as a matter of fact, but after a few scary incidents where my husband thought she’d go through the window, it was agreed that she would always ride in the crate in the car. Now, since she can’t leave her packmates alone, it’s an added measure for their safety, too. She loves to be out with them, and close to them, but she cannot leave them alone and I won’t gamble with everyone else’s safety, or mine for that matter.
This weekend, we had a break in the bitter cold with some mild winter weather and honest to goodness blue skies and sunshine. We’d almost forgotten what it looked like. To celebrate, we decided to go for a walk in one of our favorite places, the Pimiteoui Trail by the Peoria riverfront. To my surprise, Mr. Taleteller suggested taking Morgan, and I wasn’t going to argue. She’s been in need of a good dose of fresh air just like the rest of us.
So, off we went to walk along the riverfront and the first thing we heard as we started walking down the street was a dog barking like it was going to tear us up. We looked up to see a tiny, whit fluffy dog, my bet would be a Maltese or a Maltese cross up on an apartment balcony. I was surprised, because from the sound of the bark, I’d have thought this little dog was a Rottweiler. My husband and I had a brief laugh about it, and Morgan told the little dog to step off with a big girl bark of her own.
I wanted to get some pictures of Bunny and Flattery in a certain doorway nearby, so we stopped and were doing some photos. While we were fiddling with our picture taking, the woman who owned the little white dog went by the corner, crossing the street with not one, but two of the little white furry dogs, who were both barking madly. Morgan was sitting beside my husband as they appeared, and I saw her stand up and wag her tail, and all I could hear was George Costanza’s father asking “You wanna piece of me?” She gave one low bark, but I think even she realized that they were no thread. Flattery looked at them to see if they had the potential of being the other white meat, but when she heard them barking, she went back to ignoring them.
So, off on the trail we went after a bit of time, and as we passed joggers and other walkers, Morgan assessed them and gave a warning when she felt it was warranted. My husband usually manages her pretty well and while she will express her opinion, she can let it go once she’s made her feelings known most of the time.
Things were going pretty well, and then, wouldn’t you know, we saw the woman jogging towards us with her two little white balls of terror. This time, we were going to be passing close by each other. We were under a busy bridge and Bunny dislikes the noise it makes, so we try to pass it quickly. Mr. Taleteller told me to take the girls on ahead and he took Morgan over to the side of the path to wait for them to pass. As we got closer the little dogs went crazy, jumping, lunging and barking like maniacs. Flattery was getting rather excited, but Bunny was completely unimpressed by their lack of manners. I told Flattery we were not stopping for a greeting because, frankly, I don’t think the other dogs could have handled it. When they got close to the girls, I heard Morgan give a warning and I know she was watching everything very closely. It’s her worst-case scenario, when her pack could be in danger and she might not be able to protect them from the threat. Once they were past us, Morgan was fine, she just wanted to catch up and be sure we were unharmed.
The rest of the walk, I could see her relax more and more. I think for her, it’s very important to feel that she keeps us safe. Most of the time, we let her and Mr. Taleteller walk in front of us, and I often smile as I see her walking along, her tail sashaying back and forth. She’s on duty, watching out for us, but also happy to be out and about with us. She will check back to see that we’re still there every ten paces or so and if we get too far behind, I’ve seen her do a few tricks to slow my husband down and keep us all together.
Seeing the little dogs definitely gave me a fresh perspective on Morgan, though. She will definitely make her presence known, especially if she perceives a threat, but she isn’t as out of control as I once feared. If she’d been acting like the little fuzzy terrorists we passed on the trail, my husband would have been bouncing along on the ground behind her. She has a threshold for what she can tolerate, and I would definitely prefer her not to bark at every potential danger like a Tasmanian Devil, but all things considered I’d prefer she bark instead of lunge and jump like a maniac. Perhaps her time being raised by Greyhounds has taught her a few regal manners after all.