Dr. Deb's DoggyAs I type this, my dog, Oreo, is sleeping at my feet. To be truthful, she’s really my boyfriend, Don’s dog, but both she and I believe we belong to each other.
When I first began dating Don, he already had a beautiful tri-color Collie named Missy. Missy is a gentle, loving dog, and happily took to having another person around to pet her and give her treats.
Four months into our relationship, Don decided he wanted another dog, and I suggested a Shetland Sheepdog. I’d grown up with Shelties and love the breed.
Don began checking out the Sheltie rescue shelters, but couldn’t find the right dog. Then he saw an ad in the paper, and without mentioning anything to me, went to the peoples’ house, and immediately loved Oreo. Don only met the daughter of the family, who told him that they had to sell their animals because her mother was dying of cancer, and they couldn’t afford them.
When I came home, Don was watching television with the doors to the family room closed. Curious, I opened them, and saw the sweetest face peeking around the couch at me, big brown eyes apprehensive. Then we fell instantly in love. She trotted over to me, and I leaned down and petted her. From that moment, she became my shadow. She followed me everywhere I went, curled up under my desk while I was writing, and slept next to my bed. She ignored Don, barking at him whenever he tried to come near her, and skittering off in circles around the couches in the family room to avoid him.
Oreo, or Orrie as we call her, had obviously been neglected. Her beautiful coat was matted, and the tips of her ears had the fur chewed off by one of the other dogs. When I gave her a dog biscuit, she acted like she’d never seen one before. (That quickly changed.)
Since she’d decided I was her human, she became jealous of Missy and very protective of me. She attacked Missy several times when she came too close to me, or even if she came into the room I use as my office. Breaking up dogfights was a frightening experience, and I quickly learned to stay between the two. If I was petting Missy, I had to pet Orrie at the same time. After a month the jealous attacks stopped. But Orrie stayed insecure and would rush up whenever I gave Missy attention. Missy has continued to stay out of the office.
A trip to the groomer’s, a steady diet of good food and treats, and lots of love and attention from me, soon turned her into a different looking dog--at least on the outside.
On the inside, she remained frightened of everyone except me, especially men. We wondered if she’d been abused by a man, had just not really encountered them, or just saw Don (and therefore any other man) as the bad guy who took her away from her family.
When she started barking and became skittish, I’d have to crouch down, and she’d run to me and sit, cuddling as close as she could. It took Don about five months and copious bribing with her favorite treats before she finally warmed up to him.
Now she still follows me, but doesn’t always sit at my feet. She’s not my constant shadow. She plays with Don and sits next to him, especially if I’m not around. She still barks at strangers, but not as much. She’ll even go up to people who have come over several times. She’s not nearly so insecure and skittish. Missy is her best friend.
Last week I had to work long hours and didn’t spend much time at Don’s. When I did go over on Saturday, for the first time ever, Orrie ignored me. She’d come when I called her, but then would leave, pointedly going over to sit next to Don. She made it very clear that her feelings were hurt, and she wasn’t about to forgive me any time soon. Luckily, she relented the next day, much to the relief of her mommy.
Like a mother, I’m proud to watch her become secure and happy, although I have moments of missing the dog who needed me so much.