Read Part One here
Read Part Two here
the boys were hungry. they were soooo hungry.
boscoe eyed dr. A as if he knew the man had the solution to his woes. man, i haven't eaten in two days, he said, smiling and wagging like crazy from behind the little wooden baby gate. got anything? fork it over, buddy!
dr. A sat down at the dining room table, facing the gate where two eager dog faces watched his every move. he did not look at the boys, and he asked me not to look at them, either.
he said he was going to let them out of the kitchen and observe their behavior. he asked for the chopped-up hotdogs, which i gave him. they were in a greasy plastic baggie. he said, very seriously, "if riley attacks me, i do not want you to look at him. under no circumstances should you make eye contact with him. he will see that as you giving him permission to proceed."
good heavens, i thought. i must really have overstated riley's behavior problems. he's not going to attack anybody!
dr. A opened the baby gate and then sat down again across the table from me. "don't look at them," he said. "don't respond to them in any way. i want to observe them."
boscoe did what he always does: he started lobbying for attention. he nuzzled dr. A with his snout and then, getting no response, he wound his way under the table and started nuzzling me.
riley did what he always does: he got as far away from us as he could while still being able to see us--in this case, over by the couch--and he stared impassively at us. every now and then, he barked.
"you see what they're doing?" dr. A asked me, still without acknowledging either dog. boscoe lobbied him like crazy. i'm working it, i'm working it! poor boscoe was practically tap-dancing, he wanted so much to be petted.
"boscoe is well-socialized. he's here looking for attention. when he doesn't get it from me, he goes to you. and when he doesn't get it from you, he comes back to me."
"and riley--riley is less secure. he's not sure what to do. so he keeps us under surveillance, and he barks to let us know he wants attention, but he's not confident enough to come over to us."
i nodded again. i had noticed these behaviors before, but i had never bothered to try to figure out what they meant.
dr. A petted boscoe and gave him a tiny bit of hotdog. "boscoe has no behavior problems," he said. "he's a well-socialized, confident dog."
well, i knew that.
"you can put him back in the kitchen. i want to work with riley."
that was it? boscoe had fasted for two days to be told he was perfect? i could have told dr. A that without starving the poor guy.
i put boscoe in the kitchen. riley still sat with his back pressed up against the couch. he watched us warily. "bring me riley's leash," Dr. A said.
the baby gate clicked into place. now it was riley's turn.
TO BE CONTINUED