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Monday, July 16, 2012

Charlie's Split Personality Problem

Charlie in "Play" mode

Lately, we've been noticing a change in Charlie's personality. He's beginning to shy away from some people, even folks he previously greeted with enthusiasm. In discussing this with other dog parents in our community, we  reluctantly agree that he is growing up. He still happily greets his favorite people, especially the dog-owners he got to know and love when we first adopted him, but he won't approach strangers or people he fails to recognize. And he won't go to anyone who has anything in their hands.

Not unlike babies. who enthusiastically gurgle and goo, smiling at everyone they see when they are infants, once they reach 18 months of age or so, most "play shy," recognizing individual features and faces. I think Charlie has reached that stage of development.

When we adopted him, he was so starved for affection that he loved everyone. He rushed to greet the world with wagging tail and a big smile. Now, he realizes where home is, he recognizes us as his family, and things have changed. He's not fearful, just wary. And being part dachsie, he is also very, very stubborn. You can't FORCE him to like someone, or to go against his grain and even accept their pats. Really, you shouldn't force a pet to go against their instincts like that because they may even bite or snarl, and we don't want to start that reaction.

As our neighbor said, maybe it's a good thing in some ways. You don't want him to go to just anyone. I still have to figure out how, but I guess that there is his safety factor to consider. So I suppose the "running away to join the circus" or whatever is now out of the picture.

He and Munchie are now closer, too. At least as close as protagonist-friends can be. Charlie gets so excited when Munchie goes by, and Munchie waits for his playful attack. If Charlie makes a move and Munchie doesn't react, then Charlie will even go so far as to tug at Munchie's tail! THEN he gets his reaction and cat and dog are chasing each other around the apartment. He darts, he teases, and Munchie watches, tail swinging. Then, once the opportunity presents itself, Munchie swipes at Charlie and the chase is on! They are even sleeping in the same bed occasionally, which is a true miracle that we never thought we would see.

Charlie's also starting to vocalize a lot more. I don't mean bark, I mean "rawr rawr" with definite intonations, like he is trying to talk to us! It's really obvious, especially when we are on the computer and he is on "his" chair beside us. Maybe he wants to get onto Facebook to chat with Buster or Chewie, or maybe he just wants our undivided attention, but whatever the case, quite often it's followed by nibbly ticklish pokes to my legs or Mike's ankles. That gets him his attention! He also "talks" to Munchie a lot. Munchie has lately taken to answering with small growls and yowls of his own. The place is like a zoo sometimes: yapping and yowling, bodies flying across the floor. We wouldn't have it any other way.

I have read that Dachsie's are tenacious, stubborn, insistent canines, and I can't argue with that. But if Charlie is any indication, he's also strong, independent, loving and very affectionate. With that comes a strong protective instinct. 

He's still the best "investment" we ever made, and any love we give him is returned tenfold. Once again, all I can do is urge you to visit your latest shelter and adopt a little chatty friend of your own. Life is sure never dull in our household, and we wouldn't have it any other way.

Note: Our pet daddy friend, Buster's owner, laughed when I told him about the vocalizing: he said maybe Charlie would be the type to "sing" and play the keyboard. Dang, I knew there was a reason I wanted a stool for my keyboard! America's Got Talent, here we come!

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