Frank Crosses the "Border" Line - a Not so Perfect Pyr story
Frank has had a couple of “aggression incidents” in the last two weeks. Perhaps some of the GPCSO Pyr lovers can shed some light on what is going on with her. I am a bit stumped.
Frank is our 6.5 year old female Great Pyr. She is well socialized, loveable and the fearless protector of our realm. Until very recently she always exhibited an ability to analyze situations and apply only as much “Pyr” as necessary.
On Easter weekend, Dan and I took Frankie to a local forest. The unofficial rule states that once you get well into the woods you can unleash your dogs and let them run or walk with you. On the way into the forest, on the main trail Dan held the leash as we passed a huge young male Great Dane. He was beautiful! Frank and the Dane exchanged friendly greetings (both on leash) and the owner of the Dane indicated there was only one guy left in the area with two big hunting dogs.
Once we were about a ¼ mile in, Dan released Frankie from her leash and she jogged around us with pleasure. She led the way down a familiar trail about 50 yards ahead of us.
Suddenly, out of the bush charged one big black dog heading straight for Dan and me. Closely behind it was a second slightly smaller version of the first. Both were bearing down on us fast; barking and not friendly. I heard a man’s voice shouting, and looked up in time to see Frank spin around and sprint back. A quick glance in the opposite direction, showed the two black dogs almost upon us. This was not going to be good.
Dan and I took one big step back to the edge of the trail as Frank and the male skidded to a halt, in a standoff - eye to eye. For a moment I thought “this is okay.” But the black dog lunged and the two of them connected aggressively. The second black dog joined in and for an instant it looked like Frankie was going to get the worst of it. She kept spinning around and all you could see was a mesh of black and white, like an Oreo cookie in a blender. All of the dogs were snarling viciously. Within seconds Frank spun one last time and caught the male by the back of the neck and forced him to the ground. The smaller dog, a female, broke away at the sound of the male yelping.
The owner (a tall man with a large walking stick) came breathlessly out of the woods shouting in a foreign language at his dogs. The female went to her owner’s side, but the male was squealing and was pinned under Frankie. Dan jumped in at this point to pull Frankie off, and ended up having to pancake her with his entire body in order to subdue her. I snapped her leash on while she and Dan were both down and panting.
The man glared at us, grabbed the male dog by the collar and yanked him away down the trail, with the female in tow. Dan and I just looked at each other in astonishment. What the hell just happened?!
I checked Frankie out from head to toe, and she was fine. I told Dan that I would prefer if we kept her on the leash for the rest of the walk…but he didn’t quite agree. He didn’t like the way that incident played out. In short, Dan didn’t feel Frank was at fault, given that she was protecting us from two aggressive dogs. I saw his point, and once we had travelled even deeper into the forest, we let her off the leash and enjoyed the rest of our nature walk. That is, until we were walking back towards the entrance.
There was a man and a woman on bikes and with them was a Border Collie. The herder caught sight of Frankie and went into his “stance”; which is common for this breed. Frank approached the other dog just as I called out to the bikers “She is friendly." But the greeting was not friendly. Frank growled at the other dog in warning and then when he put his “herding move” on her, she used her size advantage to pin the dog down as a show of dominance. The smaller dog yelped, and I was close enough to snap the leash on Frank and give her a quick, hard correction as I yanked her off the collie. Dan and I both apologized to the owners and they moved on. The smaller dog was fine, as there were no teeth or claws used in the incident.
Dan and I talked about Frank’s unusual behavior with the Border Collie on drive home. We felt it was somehow connected to the first incident with the two hunting dogs. We couldn't come up with anything concrete, but considered it over. Little did we know, we would have two more similar incidents in the weeks to follow.
A couple of days later I was coming home across our neighbourhood park when we met Wooten (a Great Pyr – Border Collie mix puppy 3 months old) and Winston (a pure bred Border Collie and local fly ball champ). Frankie had met both dogs previously without any issues.
Winston’s owner is very proud of his dog and suggested I let Frankie off her leash to romp with Winston – which we have done a few times in the past. He always maintained that the much larger Frank would never catch Winston, as he was as quick as lightening and incredibly agile.
Well, this time, not only did Frank catch Winston during a game of Collie herding gone bad, she did the same thing she did to the Border Collie in the bush. She growled, spun around and forced Winston to the ground aggressively with her big body. She actually sat on him and held him down.
Again, I stepped in quickly, snapped the leash on and gave a hard correction and admonition. Frank hung her head and looked up at me. I was so disappointed. I apologized to Winston’s owner, and told him I couldn’t believe she did that. He couldn’t either. Wooten’s owner thought that perhaps Frankie was trying to protect her puppy. I’m not so sure.
The latest incident happened the other night while Jason was walking Frank. It happened right in front of our house as he was finishing the walk. Again, it was another neighbourhood Border Collie named Finn.
Jason told me that Finn was going by them just as they came to the driveway and usually Frankie doesn’t bother with him at all. But this time when Finn did his herding stare and lunge, Frank retaliated aggressively. Jason said she growled, and lurched forward straining on the leash and almost pulled him off balance. He had to use all his strength to pull her back and hold her.
Finn’s owner was really surprised at this sudden show of aggression. Luckily Jason was able to hold on and the dogs didn’t connect.
So now I am trying to figure out what is going on with my dog and Border Collies. I would be foolish not to notice a pattern here, and I am at a loss as to how to correct this. Anyone out there have any ideas, comments, suggestions? Any insight would be greatly appreciated.