Trusting Bolo

As I've stated before, this doofus is our "problem child". Sometimes he scares me. Not at home, when he's usually like this:

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but when we're out and about, where off lead dogs may approach him unexpectedly, and when we're racing, I don't trust him. Why? 

 

Bolo is the poster child for why puppies shouldn't be removed from their mother before 8 weeks, and why proper puppy socialisation training is so important. He missed out (we believe) on both those things. He's a highly intelligent, inquisitive dog, who carefully "inspects" us for new smells every evening, who has worked out how to open doors, who can escape easily from spaces without electric fences and other deterents. But when it comes to dog-to-dog interactions, Bolo is downright dumb, stuck in a puppy behaviour of mouthing other dogs. And he's no puppy - he has hurt other dogs, biting down in his exuberance. Even at home, we watch him closely if the dogs are wrestling outside, because he will grab Frankie by the leg or the back of the neck, not just playfully, but biting down. (Czar and Ishka are both smart about preventing him from doing this to them.)

Bolo in mid pounce! Watch out Frankie!

Bolo in mid pounce! Watch out Frankie!

When Bolo bites down, behaviours that might indicate a harmful intent are missing - he doesn't shake what he's holding, he doesn't scissor his teeth back and forth. He just clamps on, and if we try to break his hold, he squeezes more firmly. 

When I went to the NVSDC Classic earlier this year, Bolo came along to keep Czar and Mischa company. I ran him a couple of times, not in races, but when the track was empty. He's a great racer - he puts his head down and pulls hard, that single-minded determination that lets him complete tunnels under fences in a single day evident in his focus. But while we were at that race, Bolo bit other dogs in two separate incidents, when I let my guard down and didn't react fast enough when he swung suddenly on a long line. Both the other dogs involved were friends' dogs and I felt awful about the fright and bruising and little puncture wounds they sustained. I still do. 

Aftr the Classic, my trust of Bolo was at an all time low. 

At the last SHCV race, a friend who knows Bolo well helped me regain some trust in him. Reminding me firmly that there's no maliciousness in Bolo, she insisted that we take Bolo and lovely Layla out for a run after the races. I was dubious, explaining my concerns. My friend insisted we try. 

We borrowed a second scooter and headed out. At first, every time Bolo started to come alongside Layla, he would lean sideways towards her and I would panic, jabbing at the brakes to pull him back. My friend would patiently insist that I let him, pointing out that they knew each other, they'd sniffed each other thoroughly back in camp. And we'd try again. 

And he didn't bite her. He did lean towards her several times, sniffing and watching her roll her eyes at him. But after a few goes, passing back and forth, he started running cleanly.  yay!!!!!

That is, until he decided to stop and eat horse manure. Sigh! 

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