On such short notice we could only rent a tiny cabin in a very busy park with a lot of off-leash dogs. A perfect scenario to totally freak-out Viva, and I didn't want to find myself in a situation where I had to have her locked up in a car and a cabin for a week or more.
Unable to arrange something that would accommodate Viva's reactive needs, only me and Kenzo therefore left for the trip.
I thought that some serious one-on-one time would be excellent, and Kenzo would enjoy my undivided attention. At least in the evenings, during day time he would come with me to the office. Of course, that was not how events unfolded.
When we arrived at the busy park, the tiny cabins were almost build up against each other. Luckily we had the last one in a row giving us a forest view on the rear of the cabin. Our direct neighbor had two dogs that barked continuously. The paths between the cabins, campers and trailers were a myriad of excited kids and the occasional off leash dog - not allowed but nobody seemed to care about that.
|Keeping an eye on the path at all times|
He bullied a couple of off-leash, "in your face", adolescent male dogs, that made a rude attempt for a greet, accompanied by the obligatory "my dog is friendly !" from an owner somewhere. Apart from these instant lessons in dog etiquette, he kept stiff on my side and ignored all the park could throw at him. How differently would it have turned out, I thought, if Viva would have been with us.
When we made it to the beach I started to worry. It seemed he didn't want to play fetch or swim. Which is very odd as he usually goes ballistic when we are on a beach. This time, he didn't seem to seek his high. When I sad down on the beach to look at some kite surfers and waiting for the sun to set, Kenzo laid down as well - picture on top - and kept his place. Again unusual. He didn't seemed depressed, or sick for that matter, at all.
I was puzzled. We done this before. He can handle new places. We just returned from Norway, where he seemed to find so much pleasure in exploring his new environment. Continuing our beach walk, while trying some fetch again, I noticed he did play when the ball was within approximately 5 meters from me. Any longer and I could get it myself. I went for a swim. Kenzo followed.
So those were the new rules. Kenzo, recognizing that the family not being with us was odd, decided to keep me under his wings. Keep an eye out, not to leave my side whatever the temptation, and make sure I was safe. He appointed himself as my guardian angel for the week. And he would keep on doing that until we got home again. Nothing I could do about it. When Kenzo decides - like a Hovawart -, he takes his own decisions in situations like this and is determinant as well. The Born Protector.
|Stranded in Germany|
Suddenly my newly self-appointed guardian angel was driving on my lap in a tow-truck with a strange driver next to us. Found himself in a car repair shop with loud noises, visited busy hotel lobbies and stayed in a hotel room with lots of sudden sounds on the hallway and adjacent rooms. Kenzo just got very busy.
I helped him as much as I could, "It's Ok", "Nice person coming". And when he is alert and vigilant, I better make sure to tell him that, or an unavoidable arrest would be carried out - fast and accurate.
So far, Kenzo hadn't barked the whole week. That's a first. Neither did he make an arrest. The "It's Ok" kept him re-assured we had everything under control. But it meant I had to be as alert and vigilant as Kenzo at all times. And that my friends, is wishful thinking.
I crashed together with Kenzo on the outside restaurant of the hotel. A nice couple came in and sat down on the table next to us. They had a Dachshund that barked a couple of times. We don't know of what. Kenzo remained balanced, sniffed a little from a distance, and ignored the Dachshund. We were having a conversation in German and I was so excited with this opportunity to brush off my German I got carried away.
The thing is, for Kenzo a waiter has always been a little like a mailman. They come straight at us, he barks, and they go away. At least he thinks. Who can resist such a reinforcer? I knew that of course, so the first times the waiter came at us, "It's Ok" had the expected effect. After a couple of times he accepted the waiter. Talking with the couple, I let my guard down. Kenzo barked, and came forward about 1 meter, although I had him leashed. The volume of the Hovawart bark silenced the whole restaurant and I noticed from the corner of my eye, another waitress with my appetizer's was standing behind me, now shaking and looking very worried. Kenzo seemed to have a proud smear on his face like he was saying: "There is one you missed dad!".
Doing my best impression of a responsible owner, I took Kenzo to our room and returned to the restaurant without him. Made a couple of jokes to the persons with the most worried faces, to diffuse the situation, and made an apology to the waitress - plus she got a huge tip, that instantly returned a big smile for the rest of the evening. The waitress took it good, "He takes good care of you". She was spot on, and described my week in a nutshell.
That was the only time he barked that week. Still amazingly well done. Especially for a Kenzo on high alert. For me it was a whole new experience to see Kenzo so focused on his task. It is kinda nice as well, to be appointed the center of the universe, by your dog. Albeit for a week. We closed the week off with a reunion coming home. It was heart-warming to see how Kenzo and Viva greeted each other with excited squeals and ear-nibbles, and first when they were done, they said hello to my wife and me.
I wonder how that would have made Kenzo feel of himself. Not wanting to give him human feelings and reasoning, I do think he must have been pretty proud of himself. Bringing dad home and reuniting the family. The first thing we did, was play some fetch, and indeed, the 5 meter barrier was broken.