This was originally started as a response to this blog, which you simply MUST go read. It's a bit long for the comments section though. So here it is:
Well, my bad dog is not quite as bad as Piney, but yeah, he's mine. For as long as I can possibly have him.
Jared is one of our four dogs. He's a German Shepherd mix, mixed with what we're not sure, but there's probably some boxer and some hound in there somewhere.
When we met Jared he was in a no-kill humane rescue. He had been in their program over a year, and they were looking for a new foster family for him, after he had already been through a couple of them. You see, Jared has a problem. He is absolutely terrified of strangers in general, but specifically men. More specifically large men. We're pretty sure he's remembering the abuse of wherever he was before he came to the rescue.
He doesn't bite. We're thankful for that. But he does do a pretty darned good impersonation of a dog who's about to bite. He barks, he growls, he lunges, he scares pretty much everyone who doesn't know him half to death.
When we brought him home, just as a foster, he had other plans. He moved right in and made himself at home. He spent the first few weeks with us hiding under the computer desk curled up on my feet. Every time the hubby came home (who definitely fits his fear profile) Jared would bark and growl and go nuts. Gradually it became less. Now he'll sleep on Grump's lap from time to time. He's still wary, but seems to have made peace.
When we have people over, they have to meet the dogs one at a time. First comes Vali, our gentle giant and friendly ambassador German Shepherd. This dog wouldn't hurt a fly. I take that back -- I taught him to hunt flies. But he's great with people and other animals.
Next comes Masha, our Siberian Husky with food allergies (minor compared to Piney's!). If there's any danger to meeting Masha it's simply that she may someday drown someone with her kisses. She's never met anyone she doesn't love.
Then there's Donovan. Donovan is my perpetual puppy. He's only about 30 lbs (small compared to the others) and has very rounded, puppy-like features. He barks, but he's so cute that noone is scared. Within a minute he's done all his sniffing and settled down, probably in the nearest lap.
Last comes Jared. Jared comes with a preface. "Don't be afraid of him," I tell them. "He doesn't bite." They assure me that they're not afraid, and I grab the leash and head for the bedroom where Jared is not so patiently waiting. Out comes Jared. He's barking, practically foaming at the mouth and trying to get away from me with every ounce of his 60-some pounds. I use the leash because his reaction is the same with or without it, but sometimes it makes the guests less afraid. And that is the key.
Every now and then a guest will be truly not afraid. Jared will bark a couple of times, the guest will stand their ground, and he'll quiet down. Then things are fine. The leash goes away and Jared goes and finds somewhere to lounge. Until they move. Then again with the barking and the craziness. It's rare that anyone makes it through an entire visit without seeing his bad side, though it has happened once or twice.
Obviously Jared is no longer a foster dog. He's won my heart. He thinks I am the world, and it's hard not to love him back. Sometimes he just comes up to me and lays his head in my lap and looks up at me, stubby tail twitching with joy. As I type this, he's laying beside me on the bed, twitching his paws in some fantastic doggy dream.
It scares me that if we lose the house (due to two lay offs within the past few months, that's a real possibility) I may lose him. If we have to go rent a place, I can't imagine that they'd allow us to keep him. He'd have to go back to the rescue where we got him. Nothing will break my heart more, so for now I'm praying that somehow we'll be able to stay where we are and keep the whole family, furry parts included, with us.