Old Dog, New Trick

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My little sweetie boy, Max, is over 14 years old now.

At least we think so, based on our vet’s estimate of his age when we adopted him over a decade ago.

For the entire time that Max has been in our family, he’s always loved people, but been afraid of other dogs.

We suspect that he had some bad experiences with other dogs before he became part of our family.

His fear has always demonstrated itself as aggression toward other dogs — even those who were happy and eager to be his friends.

So my wife and I were especially careful to closely supervise any interactions between Bud and Max when I first rescued Bud.

In fact, Max’s fear of other dogs was one of the main reasons why Bud had to live in our garage for two months before I finally brought him into our house for the first time.

Since then, we’ve been extremely happy to see Bud and Max become loving brothers — thanks to Bud choosing, early on, to be patient with Max’s outbursts, instead of biting his head off.

And now, thanks to Bud, Max has learned that other dogs are not a threat to him.

I know that because of what happened last night.

Almost every night, Bud and I go for a long walk with my next-door neighbors and good friends, Mike and Annamarie and their three greyhounds (including one foster dog) and one Japanese Chin.

Max never goes on those walks, because I don’t want him to be scared and try to attack the neighbor dogs.

But, last night, at walk time, my sister-in-law called, to talk with my wife.

Thinking that I had missed my nightly dog–walking phone call, I took Bud and Max for a quick walk together around the block.

When we got 2/3 of the way around, we met Mike and Annamarie with their dogs.

Bud happily ran ahead, to the end of his leash to greet his doggy friends, as I held Max’s leash, to keep him from trying to attack them.

But, within a second, Cairo, their oldest grey, approached Max.

With Mike carefully controlling Cairo’s leash and me carefully controlling Max’s, we slowly let the big dog and the little dog meet.

Max calmly stood still as Cairo sniffed his butt for a few seconds — and then sniffed his face for a second before deciding that Max was OK and heading back toward Mike.

A few seconds later, Max and Bud and I joined Mike and Annamarie and their dogs for the rest of our normal, long walk.

Max happily jogged alongside of the loping greyhounds.

When I saw that he was getting tired, I picked him up and carried him for a couple of minutes.

When I set him back down, he happily joined the pack for the rest of the walk.

And, when they all stopped to sniff a spot in the grass, he ignored Tela, the fawn-colored female greyhound, when she carefully sniffed him.

So, thanks to Bud’s influence in his life, Max now has several new doggy friends.

I guess that’s what brothers are for.

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