Ollie is one of my favorite dogs ever. He’s like a prickly uncle to my dogs, Jasmine and Ree Ree. I’m not going to lie, he’s grumpy and also mean to all dogs that aren’t mine. He will still, as a senior, bark and growl at dogs until his back legs give out. But over the past couple of years I’ve been starting to wonder if perhaps he’s not mean but is just a polite gentleman with good boundaries.
I have a theory that his “aggression” towards other dogs might just be frustration and disappointment in realizing that most dogs will always want to greet him exuberantly by smelling his butt and then trying to touch noses immediately after the butt smelling. Maybe that’s just not his thing.
Maybe his growling is masking his anxiety. When another big dog comes bounding over to his two dog friends he seems to take it personally that the new dog doesn’t politely and calmly wander over to introduce himself from a distance. Ollie’s instinct to care take puts him on edge when a strange dog manically runs into his space slobbering and wagging all over everybody.
When he was first staying with us he would give Jasmine warning growls if she got too close to him with his achy joints. When she backed off appropriately he would reward her with a little kiss or a nose to nose tap. When he realized his boundaries would be respected he became a steady, patient and caring dog friend.
When he visits, he honors that it is Jasmine’s house and that she is the boss. If he’s chewing a bone and she decides she would like it, he allows her to walk up, sniff the bone and remove it from his jaws. He doesn’t steal her bed or her food and always lets her go outside first.
In the truck it’s the same thing. If Jasmine needs to be more comfortable he is there for her to lay her big head on or to be smushed into a corner so she can have more room. If Ree Ree wants a better view then he quietly allows her to sit on him like he’s a chair, panting from the extra body heat.
Over the years his strong confidence has taught Jasmine to not be so scared and for Ree Ree to just freaking calm down. All of his actions show me that he is thoughtful and well socialized, not at all mean. He just wants other dogs to be the same way.