Tuesday, 30 April 2013

Leader of the Pack episode 4 - Harry

Here we are again, another week, another dog hauled out to Spain to be 'rehabbed'.

This week was Harry, from Whitehall rescue. Harry is advertised as being a Basset Hound x... presumably on the strength of his short legs and long back and somewhat houndy colouring, however in my opinion, Harry is all terrier.

He bears none of the classic traits of the Basset, the heavy jowly face the big floppy ears, the desire to scent and use his nose, or the easy going couldn't give a damn gregarious nature of the scent hound...

What he DOES display is some antagonistic greeting behaviour, chucking paws and his head over other dogs backs, fairly quick reactions, and a 'pushy, lets go' nature... all terrier!

I am not sure how this weeks 'before' and 'after' shots were done because all the shots of Harry seemingly being a rude pushy or aggressive greeter seem to have been done in Spain, not the UK - and yet in the 'Cesar evaluates and rehabs' section, Harry showed very VERY few signs of this at all.

I have to express my UTTER horror at Cesars method of introducing Harry to new dogs though - when his own dogs (only a very small selection of them though) illicit no reaction, Cesar and the representative of the rescue take Harry into a local town to meet some dogs that are not 'perfect well behaved' dogs like Cesars...

Cesar states to camera twice that he has NEVER met these dogs and has NO idea how they will respond to Harry at all...

I'm disgusted at this, when evaluating a dogs behaviour, a GOOD and sensible behaviourist leaves as little as possible to chance.  You just do NOT put other peoples dogs at risk, you do not put the dog you are working with at risk, and using unknown dogs is a bloody big risk indeed!

Harry actually passes this test pretty well having just a minor snark at a big entire GSD.

So now we meet the families - first are a dog groomer lady and her ex military chap, they have two rescue greyhound bitches who look well looked after (even if one of them has crystals glued to its bottom!). Then there are the young trio, Krys, Alice and Abby all in their mid twenties, who share a house. Abby wants to be a dog behaviourist so has come to learn from the best (vomit) and Alice works with horses, Krys is an engineer (of what?) but he barely speaks ..

The last couple are a psychologist and a trauma psychoanalyst - hes pretty quiet and shes quite gobby.

Interesting to note here, I pegged the psychologist and wife as leaving straight away, because the wife was telling the bloke what to do a lot and I don't think Cesar liked that at all! They did get slung out first - Cesar waffled on about how dog behaviour is not about intellect, its about energy... ok!

This episode was pretty nothingy really, lots of waffle about the 'pack walk' with the family with the two greyhounds, making the point that Harry should walk behind the two greyhounds... and yet in later shots you see him sort the trio out so that Harry is actually on the inside nearest the handler and hes walking AHEAD of the two greyhounds most of the time.. I thought that was BAD in Cesarland.. or maybe the rules change depending on what sort of bollocks he is talking at the time?

There was an introducing with the greyhounds involving the couple walking into Harrys run with the dogs on leads, Harry in the run loose.  Harry ducks out of th edoor to sniff the girls back ends then follows them all back in and Cesar explains that this is wrong, they should have blocked the doorway with their dogs to stop Harry coming out - personally I am glad they didn't, what a way to kick off a fight, facing up two strange, large dogs against a little fiesty terrier!

The three young people then had a go at going in and putting Harrys lead on - Abby was chosen to do this since shes the one who wants to be a dog behaviourist.

Here Cesar does/says something that confirms to ME that when he is using really intimidating, bullying body language, he knows EXACTLY what he is doing, even if he talks a load of shit about calm submissive and being the leader.

Abby goes to slip the lead over Harry's head, and she leans over him as she does so, and Harry ducks away. The second time she offers Harry her hand to sniff and squats a little instead, so he doesn't duck away and she gets the lead on.

At this point Cesar stops her and he explains that if you lean over a dog, thats a really intimidating/threatening position to take and can frighten or upset them....  Yes. Spot on - this is NOT a man who is in any way unaware that his body language is used to intimidate and frighten dogs into behaving for him.

Abby, Alice and Krys do some walking about introducing Harry to two other dogs, both on leads (Abby handles Harry, Krys and Alice take the other two dogs). Initially Abby wants to stay still and allow the other dogs to walk up, shes very unsure and Cesar calls her out on this and tells her not to question herself, its better to make a mistake...

I disagree - learning from some mistakes is ok, but mistakes that potentially involve animals getting hurt are NOT ok.

Cesar advises that because in real life Harry will be walking, not sat still, she must walk straight at the strange dogs and past them. Harry does this fine - I think because its hot and he is old and knackered but thats just a guess, we haven't and we never do see, Cesar actually DO anything to address Harrys previous supposedly dreadful behaviour.

The next test with A, A and K is to take them to to a stable yard where Alice handles a GORGEOUS PRE stallion who is an absolute dope on a rope, practically asleep. Cesar admits he knows nothing about horses so hands over to the girls to decide what they want to do.

They decide to walk Harry around the stationary horse getting gradually nearer then letting Harry sniff the horses nose - Harry jumps up, I honestly don't know if it was to nip or just get nearer to sniff, the horse snorts and pulls away a little and Abby pulls Harry away constantly giving him 'tsst tsst tsst'.. I don't see any particular reaction from Harry to this though.

This is followed by the girls walking Harry and the horse around together, then Cesar shows them that just one person can walk both animals around together - which he proceeds to do.

At no point do they see how Harry reacts to a horse loose (phew!), nor do they point out at any stage that a horse on its own or lead is a VERY different prospect in a dogs mind, to a horse with a person sat on it. So this whole section actually gives VERY little indication as to whether Harry would actually be safe around horses in general, just that he doesn't bark his head off on a lead near a stationary or walking horse.

The final test for the groomer lady and her husband is to groom Harry - she picks him up and plonks him in the bath which, fair play to her, she recognises very quickly he has probably not experienced before and probably is causing him some anxiety, because the room is new to him, she is new to him, being bathed is new to him etc etc.

I have to say here, she handled him pretty well, she had her husband hold him steady and she slowly got him used to the water. I thought her hubbys face at several points was rather closer to a strange terrier than I would advise but there was no choking or tssssssting going on.

In the end, as I predicted to my long suffering OH who was mainly shouting 'f...off' to the screen, groomer lady and husband won the dog. I don't think Cesar was keen on the trio because the boy barely said a word really, and I very much suspect Harry would actually NOT be ok with ridden horses or off leash around horses (or chickens which the girls appear to have in the early 'at home' shots).

The 2 weeks later footage seemed to show that actually they were not coping with the 'pack walks' quite as easily as they had thought, but over all Harry seemed pretty happy in his new home.

This episode as I say was pretty nothingy - we didn't seen any actual rehab or training, most of Cesars advice was waffley bollocks about energy.

I have to wonder then if Harry actually WAS as bad as the rescue made out, I think they said he had been rehomed a few times and come back because of his dog aggression, OR.. did Cesar do things with Harry that we did not see.

At one point, Harry was in the field with the psychologists wife, on lead, and Cesar released Junior who hurtled up to her. Now she had already said she had in the past been fearful of dogs and all she did was stand still - Harry did not react AT ALL, and Junior ignored Harry completely in favour of rushing up to the woman to say hi...

I cannot imagine that a dog with serious dog aggression would do nothing in such a situation (big dog running head on at him, nervous person holding the lead) so I do wonder what was done beforehand, and what was edited/cut out.. No idea. As I say, it COULD be that the rescue really over-egged the cake here and Harry's problems were 'user error' and not really him at all!

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