Read Part One here.
It wasn't just Riley's lunge toward Will that had me troubled. It was all of his anxieties--anything loud, fast and close to the ground agitated him. Small shrieking children, yes, the most troublesome, for obvious reasons. but also vacuum cleaners, roller bladers, lawn mowers, bicycles. he lived in a constant state of anxiety and that couldn't be a good way to live.
we had to be on high vigilance whenever there were children around. we didn't have children of our own, but we had friends with children, and nieces and nephews, and neighbor kids, and while we could watch him and be wary it seemed that it would be a much better solution to help figure out a way through his fears.
enter Dr. A.
Dr. A is a university professor and an animal behaviorist. a friend told me about him--she said he came out to her house and worked with her dog, Kizzie, who was a rather wild german shepherd she had found abandoned and starving in the woods of wisconsin. kizzie was completely loyal to my friend, but rather over-protective, and he had bitten several people. Dr. A. had worked wonders with him.
i figured riley wouldn't be nearly as difficult. he hadn't bitten anybody, and god willing never will.
so i gave Dr. A. a call.
what a kind man. he said he would come out to my house and work with both dogs, and he woudln't charge me a thing. if i liked his work, i could make a donation to the university department he works for. this sounded like a deal to me.
so he told me his requirements. he wanted both dogs penned up in the kitchen when he arrived. he wanted me to have fasted them for two days, so they were eager and very food-oriented. and he wanted me to buy a package of hot dogs, cut them up into tiny pieces, and have them at the ready for him to use.
buying hotdogs was easy. setting up the baby gate was easy. starving the dogs for two days--not so easy.
i'm hungry! boscoe whined. why can't i eat? i'm not the one with the behavior problem!
i'm hungry, said riley. i'm just a little guy, but i'm hungry.
they were quite bewildered when breakfast time came and went, and no breakfast. more baffled still by dinner time, and no dinner. but a second breakfast time with no breakfast? i had to avoid their big brown sad eyes, their emaciated faces, their looks of despair...
dr. A came over on a very snowy afternoon in february. he was quite old, but he fearlessly drove his mammoth SUV through the deep, unplowed streets and trudged up to our front door. doug was at work. the boys were in the kitchen, peeking at him over the top of the baby gate.
"let's begin," he said, stomping the snow off his boots. and i led him into the dining room.
TO BE CONTINUED
2 hours ago