Dogs bark. Viggo barks and barks. We diagnosed this as little man complex. He is quite impressively huge when he puffs up his chest and lets the collective roar of the animal kingdom channel through him. But it annoys the neighbors.
We took Viggo to meet with his breeder. I know breeder is a bad word in pet communities but let me explain Marilyn is no ordinary pup pimp. Marilyn loves dogs (dachshunds in particular) and she has many that she shows professionally around the country. Peter has the best analogy-she loves dogs the way a mechanic loves cars. Its a different love but just as fierce. And she is clearly who we turn to for tips in dog psychology.
Since we don't have TV (scholars that we are) we were unversed in the phenomenon that is the "Dog Whisperer." We quickly caught up. There are 2 kinds of dogs-followers and leaders. Leaders walk ahead of their owners, barking at others as a form of protection for their pack. This has been Viggo. But yesterday, Viggo learned to be a follower. We kept him behind us on the lead and I'll be if that little dog didn't submit to us. Its a small adjustment but made a substantial difference to our relationship to him and his public behavior.
One would assume that this type of role reversal would require a fight for power but as we found out, dogs live in the moment. No matter the dogs age or habits, they can change. And change quickly.
Why can't people do the same? No amount of cheese or bacon can get some people out of their habits. But then again, how many of us can own up to our own barks. It takes the courage that our 4-legged friends never once doubt that they have.
Maybe we think we are too old to change. I'm reading an amazing book on learning and creativity by a man I heard speak once, Ken Robinson. He says, in "The Element":
For the most part, people seem to think that life is linear, that our capacities decline as we grow older, and that opportunities we have missed are gone forever. Many people...don't understand their constant potential for renewal.
Viggo is smart. I should follow him more often.