The Biggie Momma here. Biggie's been mostly a g'boy lately, but each time we think he's ready for a Canine Good Citizen test, he reverts to doing something he KNOWS he's not supposed to do, though it usually comes from his kuvasz instinct. At the same time, he is progressing nicely with some other skills that I would not have expected of him (like being a good quiet boy in a hotel room in DC). One step forward, two steps back...
KUVASZ IN THE CITY
In some respects, teaching a kuvasz just to live in the city (especially our neighborhood - full of WTFs) requires skills far beyond the CGC. It is, and always will be, a struggle between what is expected of a dog, especially a large one, in a very close urban setting, and the kuvasz temperament (See here, here and here for more on the kuvasz temperament...) Every walk is an adventure, or a learning opportunity, or both.
It's a 2-mile round trip to a public dog run we've been going to since the closer, private run has been closed for unspecified "work." Yesterday morning is an example of the highs and lows that come on a morning outing. It started out auspiciously enough... At the industrial kitchen next door, there was an older man hosing down the sidewalk. He saw us come out of the building and turned the hose away, and as we walked past, asked "What kind of dog is that?" Biggie seemed relaxed, so we stopped to chat a bit, and he seemed curious about the guy but didn't a) bark at him or b) immediately ram his nose into the crotch, the two most common reactions he has to strangers. When the guy held out his hand, he went to sniff it and then went to get petted. After brief conversation, we moved on to a guy at the butcher/sausage maker next door, taking delivery of giant barrels of pork pieces, who asked, "Did you know when you got him that he was going to be so big? I remember last summer he was sooooo little!" We chatted very briefly, and Biggie just stood there, and we've just aced 2 CGC tasks: Accepting a Friendly Stranger and Sitting/Standing Politely for Petting.
Actually three more tests are no-brainers for Biggie: Appearance and Grooming (Biggie loves having his face brushed and his ears cleaned with a cool wet cloth), Walking on a Loose Lead and Walking Through a Crowd.
Half a block later, we are on the sidewalk and there is a man approaching us. He is pretty nondescript, maybe he walks with a little limp, but really he's not anything that would normally set him off. He certainly doesn't look domicile-challenged or likely to make WTF remarks. But Biggie gets The Stance - his ears go forward, he gets tall, all while walking on a loose lead toward the guy. As we get to about 8 feet away he lunges and growls/barks, but since I'm ready for it (and he happens to be walking next to me in good "heel" position), he gets pulled around by his collar and shoved off the sidewalk by my left knee, and pushed into a sit by a suddenly dominant Biggie Momma. The leash goes onto the Gentle Leader, and he doesn't get to resume his walk until I say so. After that, the remainder of the walk to the run proceeds uneventfully - Biggie walks politely past loud, exhaust-spewing buses, trucks and cars, some off-duty cops outside the stationhouse who call out, "Hello, Wolf!" as we walk by, a doorman who shouts, "How's my boy?" (Who are these people? We walk by most days but we have not stopped to talk to any of these folks before). Biggie smiles and trots by with just a turn of his head to acknowledge all his fans, and we finally get to the dog run, where there are a few dogs already in the run.
Biggie runs in and...
immediately aggresses on an intact* male yellow lab about his age and half his size. The lab is yelping and jumping on his owner to get away from Biggie, who is double his size, and making a big show of teeth but otherwise not hurting the lab. I am silently shouting to the dog, just lie down submissively and he'll stop! while racing in, chasing and grabbing him by the collar and wrestling him away from the appalled onlookers. The intact male's owner says in an aggrieved tone as I take Biggie out of the dog run, We were leaving anyway. I think of creative uses of the English language but hold my tongue - one thing I've learned is that it's always the bigger dog's fault, and I'm not going to convince this woman otherwise.
*people, there is a reason why most dog runs have rules like "no intact males and no females in heat"...
So Biggie gets a time out from the dog run. We go to the benches outside where he has to lie down and I stand with my back to him. After a few minutes, so Biggie doesn't think he successfully chased the lab away, we go back.
A few minutes later, when most of the other dog owners have left because the 'aggressive' dog is back, a WTF walks by the outside of the dog run wheeling a bike with clanking chains on it. Biggie goes up to the fence and starts barking at him, I take Biggie by the collar and start walking him away. The guy calls after me,
"yeah, that's right. You better make him F--ing stop because I got a gun and I'll shoot him and then I will stab him so he better stop barking because I'm gonna stab him and stab him if he don't stop...(etc) I HATE DOGS!"
I don't know why, but this bit is the last straw. "IF YOU HATE DOGS THEN DON'T HANG OUT AT THE DOG RUN!!!"
Of course, once I react to the guy Biggie gets protective too, and he turns and starts barking again. WTF goes, "What, he doesn't like black people?"
And I don't know why -- I guess I was trying to show I'm not racist, though why I even care what the WTF thinks, is beyond me, since he's going to think what he's going to think -- but instead of saying "No, he just doesn't like YOU," I said, "He doesn't like bikes."
WTF proceeds to sit down at a bench with his back to the dog run, and once he stops yelling at us, Biggie ignores him.
On the way home, we walked nicely with his friend Puccini and his dad, past a group of 6 police horses walking slowly past (Biggie sees them but acts as if it's the most ordinary thing in the world), stopping on traffic islands with morning rush hour traffic and bicycles whizzing in front and behind him, and greeting another dog friend and her mom calmly.
Sigh. We have to work on the approaching joggers, greeting a friendly stranger with dog. Someday...