Yesterday I got off the train at Farncombe, jumped straight in the car and headed off to pick up Murdoch as usual. Unfortunately I was unable to collect him, as the A3 was shut due to an earlier accident (which I think may have been fatal - gutted for everyone involved in that) so Murdoch stayed overnight at the Dog House.
I headed there this morning as usual for the 6.20am walk (don't want the boy to forget who I am!) and chatted to my dog guy (G) as we walked the usual route.
We discussed the fact that Murdoch is very very different when I'm not around. We've had this conversation before, so this was not breaking news, but the conversation turned to the option of me changing how I am around Murdoch so that his behaviour doesn't deteriorate while I'm around.
Now I don't think that my treatment of Murdoch is anything out of the ordinary. I'm not extraordinarily affectionate towards him - he gets stroked, he gets tummy rubs and he gets the occasional cuddle, but he's not allowed to jump up, he's not allowed on the bed or the sofa anymore, so I'm not sure what changes I could make that might make a difference. G pointed out that if I took another dog home instead of Murdoch, I'd probably notice things that I don't do with that dog, but I do with Murdoch.
Of course the flipside of this is the fact that I may spend the next ten years of my life with Murdoch (he's six) so do I want to (for example) never give him a cuddle on the off chance that it might improve his behaviour? How much would it need to improve his behaviour by in order to make it worth the sacrifice?
There is a big part of me that is so happy for what we've been able to achieve for Murdoch over the past few months, he is now (for the most part) merrily running around offlead with other dogs (still with a muzzle on, as he has his moments - usually when I'm around!) which was inconceivable to me even a few short weeks ago.
Then there is a small part of me that would like more for him - to be able to have him offlead, wherever I am and to feel confident that he will not try anything stupid. In an unfamiliar environment, who knows how other, unknown dogs would react to my idiotic, boisterous dog? It could all too easily end in tears and with Murdoch muzzled and unable to defend himself, he'd be the one that would come of worst. In order to achieve a situation where unlimited offlead walks were possible, I'd need to look at modifying my behaviour. Or I can continue to enjoy my dog's company as usual and know that while he can be offlead all the time that he is at the Dog House, whenever he is out and about elsewhere with me, he'll be on his lead.
Really tough choices and no answers from me as yet.......