Ren Goes Cujo II: Dog In the Mirror

☣ Clearly on the mend, though I still keep myself awake coughing incessantly without a suppressant (thankfully my sweetheart bought me a fancy one) and I feel extra cruddy for the first twenty minutes after waking, probably because my ears sinuses and lungs are all sorting out the change of orientation. Bleh continues.

The Incident

Ren had another Cujo moment. This time he bit my sweetheart. As she is Ren’s primary human and chihuahuas are notoriously neurotically loyal one-person dogs, it was a bit of a shock to us all that he’d go that far. In chimpanzee custom, one of a band who dares attack a matriarch is seized collectively by the rest of the band and summarily drowned in the nearest body of water. So it kinda makes sense the whole house had to pause and wonder which of us was going to murder the dog.

Ren was resource guarding again, this time, he hid under an ottoman with a toy that wasn’t even his. (A Tsum-tsum mini which, to be fair, has a bit of resemblance to his own squeak toys.) I’m not sure if my sweetheart was even trying to engage Ren, but may have been cleaning up toddler toys near Ren’s cover.

Needless to say, Ren is regarded objectionably by the household for now. He’s kenneled away, but given he will try to sneak into bed (which is a problem) he gets kenneled every night. It’s that or sleep separated in the common area, and he’s made it clear he prefers the former.

Since the previous incident, I had already been watching for signs of resource guarding, monitoring him after he got durable treats, making sure they were consummed immediately or confiscated.

Other times, Ren would set-up post and snarl at passers by, commonly guarding my sweetheart. For those occasions, I’d try to give him a better option (say a treat and a pet.) It means he’s had few opportunities to engage in resource guarding behavior since the last time.

But that may be the problem. I think he misses it. It may be that something in his head gets a pleasure from resource guarding which would explain why he resorted to guarding a toy. (he’s typically disinterested in his own toys unless someone picks one up and waggles it in front of him.)

For now, though, I don’t care. I’m just plain too pissed off. For one thing, I was already angry at him for his conduct during walks. Some dogs he likes and is perfectly cordial to. Some dogs bark at him and he just avoids them. But some dogs will set him off into a yanking, barking rampage. I’ve yet to figure out what traits make a dog friendworthy, and what must be annihilated according to Ren. But this week he’s been on a berzerker rampage, complicated further by adjusting to use of an extendible leash. All while I’m recovering from a viral infection and would really, really rather not be on a damn dog walk in the first place.

So for right now, I really resent Ren.


As per the last time, I’m learning to give myself permission to honor my feelings in response to these incidents. I’m not, nor can ever be, a perfectly rational, eternally just animal caretaker, and I need to manage my feelings, even if doing so means being unfair to the dog.

But at the same time this informs how effective I am at being a just parent, or a custodian, or a peacekeeping officer, or magistrate. I really try to be fair, but sometimes I really want to punt that mutt over the balcony.


The whole human species is this way, sure, we pretend we can be impartial as lawyers or lawmakers or police officers, and sometimes — occasionally — we even can, but more often than not, someone just rubs us the wrong way, and needs shooting, (or has a well-cut jib and deserves lenience.) We create logical arguments to justify favoring our friends and protecting ourselves against what we fear, but the validity of those arguments changes from person to person. Logic isn’t consistent between us, no matter how we try.

And so we kick dogs. Given the power to kick with impunity, we’ll punt anyone who scares or angers us, no matter if that reason is just. Like Ren, we decide for no measured reason that some people are good and others are bad, and the good ones deserve waggy tails and the bad ones deserve all the rage and barking we can muster.

It’s how we govern now. Maybe it’s always been this way. Few voted for Trump based on his sound policy platform. Americans voted for him based on how he made them feel. Specifically, they voted for him based on how angry they could get at Clinton and the current establishment. Our government-by-the-people is based not on rational problem-solving, but the feelz, man. We are the hate based society Orwell feared.

Ren compulsively rage-barking at strange dogs is me. He is all of us.


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