Chico’s Home away from home

Most of the times I visit my family in DC Chico doesn’t go with me, there isn’t a lot of room where I stay. Instead, Chico goes to Kathy and Ben’s, about 30 minutes from Scranton, PA. They have ten acres and two dogs (Harley and Flossie) and Ben works from home, so it’s a great place for Chico – he to ‘help’ Ben. For Chico helping consists largely of lying near Ben and keeping him company while he works, they both enjoy it.

We’ve been doing this for about a year now and the three dogs are really used to each other. At first there were some significant conflicts between Chico and Flossie, but they have each decided that the other is annoying but not worth troubling with. They mostly just stay out of each other’s way. Flossie is a mixed breed too and she also has a lot of herding dog in her blood. Like Chico, she tends to be bossy; barking at anyone having too much fun or making too much noise. The second dog at Kathy and Ben’s is Harley, their adult son’s dog. Harley is a gentle soul and he’s the one who has really made friends with Chico.

Harley (l) and Flossie (r).

On the second visit it was reported to me that Chico and Harley were playing, really playing, but I didn’t ever get to see it because when I arrived, Chico went back to owning me and staying by my side to keep anything and everything further from me than he was. Kinda like this:

Chico is telling Flossie that she's too close to me. When I pushed the shutter release his head was resting on my knee. In the time it took my phone's camera to actually snap the image, Flossie got just a little too close - that's her paw at top right of frame - and Chico whipped around to tell her that "you're too close to my human, back away from my human."

Harley and Flossie don’t get a lot of treats, so they know me as the lady who brings special bones (I buy assorted bully sticks by the pound and try to have one for each of them when I come to pick Chico up).

Last time we were at Kathy & Ben’s talk turned to relations between dogs during Chico’s early visits. The dogs were lying at our feet, each chewing a bully stick, and memories of first days when they might have fought over the treats prompted me to shoot a little video of the three dogs and their bones. It’s grainy and way over a minute long – I realize that only Chico’s most passionate followers will watch the whole thing. The rest of you are excused.

Pretty content puppies, don’t you think?

The early months with Chico were filled with me learning to manage him, not even train him, just manage him. It was a blur of constant watchfulness, desperate searches for solutions to behavioral issues, hundreds of treats for the smallest hint of desirable behavior, special apparatus and hours of research and training. These I’m getting feed back from the world that he is a different dog. Some people don’t believe he was ever a problem dog. I’m so happy that he’s having a calmer and more peaceful life.

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