I have a confession to make. Tierce is really the easiest dog to own ever. He’s miles ahead of Shassi in that respect. Actually, the difference between him and Shassi is more like the difference between a sociopath and the average jock.
For a Shiba, Tierce is a good size. Solid. He’s gregarious, especially with people he knows. He (now) doesn’t have a problem with most dogs. He comes when he’s called and the odds that he’ll do it when distractions are present is steadily increasing (still dependent on the tangible laden threat in my voice).
As I’ve said before (or intimated), Shassi had a brain she used for evil. I’ve enumerated the many ways she would manage to get out of the house, teach me to take nothing for granted, etc. She is the dog that made me believe that, if there was a god, Shibas were the manifestation of the phrase, “Hubris is a sin!”. She is also the dog that spawned TMS, because so many people would not believe that owning a Shiba was a serious exercise in humility.
But let’s compare the two:
Shassi: Wailed for three nights straight until I gave up and let her sleep on the bed with me.
Tierce: Went to sleep in his crate the first night and every night with no lonesome wails at all.
Shassi: Took off at every opportunity
Tierce: Can be bargained with. Usually.
Shassi: Separation anxiety when not in ‘her’ home, ‘her’ car, ‘her’ territory.
Tierce: Could be happily plunked just about anywhere. Does not flinch at loud sounds (like SCA heavy fighting), does not care where he is as long as he’s fed, walked and paid attention to when he wants.
Shassi: Hated every dog she met outside of puppyhood, with very few exceptions (usually dogs she had repeated exposure to over a number of months). Spaying did not fix this.
Tierce: Was a macho pain in the ass until I had him neutered. Now he is a regular at the dog park and I don’t act all squirrelly if another dog runs up to him (although on principle I want to throttle the owners who blithely call, “He’s friendly!”).
Shassi: The number of times she would return at my call could be numbered on one of my hands, even if I should by accident lose two of my fingers.
Tierce: Recalls are good. Other dogs or prey animals blunt this to a great degree, but there’s hope there.
Shassi: Never aggressive towards people. Flashed teeth once, maybe, and a good scruff shake cured her of that.
Tierce: Required a complete overhaul of his schedule to deal with his dominance aggression. After the age of a year (and NILIF, a series of obedience classes and the intelligence that if he ever flashed his teeth at me or anyone else again, he could expect to spend the rest of his life hunting for them – one of the many reasons that I advocate positive training most of the time; it makes even mild negative reinforcement much more impressive and required much less often) he has never shown unprovoked aggression towards another person. Even when he got his leg caught in the park bench, he allowed complete strangers to extricate him, even though he was in pain and scared.
Shassi: Extremely good with children. This, I attribute to early socialization and frequent trips to the playground at the end of the street.
Tierce: Somewhat nervous around smaller children who don’t show complete confidence around him and will sometimes bark at them, despite frequent trips to the nearby elementary school. Likes my friends’ kids/grandkids who he was raised with.
Tierce: 5 points in his favour
Shassi: 2 points in her favour
Now I know that a lot of Tierce’s virtues can be laid at Susan’s door (Tierce technically has a different breeder, but Susan bred his line), because she has taken pains to breed Shibas that are a little more in touch with the human world. (When I was hunting for a male Shiba puppy we visited her to chat and my jaw dropped open when more than one Shiba came to the fence and wagged its tail.) And, yes, Mischa and I have a LOT to do with how Tierce acts. I am childfree and my job allows me a lot of freedom to spend time with him. Mischa works at home now, so Tierce rarely needs a dog walker. We spoil Tierce, but he knows where the line is and that crossing it is B-A-D.
But he’s so easy to live with – he can be warned away from the door when it opens, he is great in other people’s homes, he is a great companion when I go walking or running, he is reasonably friendly with people and other dogs – in short, he’s as close to ideal as I think a Shiba can ever come.
Continued next week.