Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Respectful Gazes

There's this special word in the dog world for the last straw that broke the camel's back, "trigger stacking"...something to be particularly aware of when the grandkids and their parents come by, and the peaceful bliss of our three setter domain is encroached by sudden squawks, insistent bawls, mechanical chirping and tweeting toys, the rattle of marbles on the wooden floor- setters are so sensitive to noise, being ninja bird stalkerss, aware of every tiny rustle of bird in the brushes!
 Then there's the physical infringement: stumbling babies, grappling siblings and flying toys at eye level no less! mention but a few. Big heffalump humans suddenly thumping down on a sofa usually reserved for circumspect quiet dogs and slow elderly humans. Not two but six humans milling around in the same kitchen space at meal times...

Not to mention the tantalizing scents and teasing display of luxury treats: Delicious! but now somehow inexplicably off-limit food like bananas or rice crackers being carried around by tripping toddlers at nose height...English setters are most obliging dogs, but there comes a moment when too much becomes too much, which is the dreaded "dog bite threshold". Yaletown Dog Training point out that prevention is the way to go: 
 Prevention is the way to go. Know your dog’s triggers and do your best to avoid putting him into those situations that just might push him too far.
As a Granma I'm constantly aware of the stress my setters must feel-Mum is in charge of the human stress the kids feel about deferring to dogs or being a little fearful of the big setters. My doggie mama job is to watch my setters' doggie demeanor carefully and protect them from overload. I orchestrate kiddie walks to play in the park (too hot for the setters outside), prepared an air-conditioned family room upstairs with toys. Fortunately the dogs have their own safe spaces in their cages or under the table to retire to and are thus good at managing their own stress. The children were nice and respectful, not petting much at all, not thrusting faces in the dogs' space, averting gazes to show respect. Good job, little ones! 
The sudden descent of silence when they're gone: relief, tinged with regret and longing for their darling presence...when will you come again sweeties?
Thanks to Kristi Benson for bringing the excellent Yaletown blogpost and trigger stacking visual to my notice.

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