Dog trains man

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

A Week Under The Wings of a Guardian Angel

Soon after our Norway trip we unexpectedly found ourselves traveling to Holland and Germany again.

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
Normally Kenzo would have marked the cabin as his territory and barked at anything approaching that I could have missed. In stead, he looked curious at his surroundings, kept a good eye on the two barkers next door - which even barked more because of that. In the late afternoon we went on a trip to the beach. While navigating through the park, dodging kid's toys and passing lunging dogs behind fences I was proud of Kenzo. He was on his best behavior, and ignored all the disturbances.

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
Fate was not finished with Kenzo and me. Driving back home after a week in Holland, we stranded with car trouble in Germany - so much for the new Hovie Cruiser but that is another story.

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.
Share:

20 comments

  1. Kenzo is truly an amazing dog! It's interesting, isn't it, the decisions that they make, and the sense of duty that they have?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Jen, so true. Outside their comfort zone gives so many surprises. I was so grateful for this opportunity to get to know Kenzo better. It seems I never stop learning, even he is already 6 years old :)

      Delete
    2. oops, thats not 6, but 5 years old :)

      Delete
  2. And to end with a sweet reunion. Have a great Wednesday.
    Best wishes Molly

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Molly, you too. The reunion was the icing on the cake :)

      Delete
  3. If I hadn't fallen in love with my two hovi-girls, I would definetely fall in love with Kenzo right now. I am happy of my girls, but I miss the experience with a male! Silvia

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. What a nice thing to say :) Thank you Silvia!

      Delete
  4. What an excellent travel companion Kenzo is becoming! I'm sure your wife feels much safer sending you out on your own knowing you've got an attentive Hovawart by your side.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Haha, I never thought about that angle. I am sure she does! Maybe I should ask her, although she will probably deny it :)

      Delete
  5. It's amazing how they act in different situations!

    Sam

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It is isn't it, Sam.
      Love it dogs never stop to surprise us, and never stop giving us little nuggets with information that make us understand them better.

      Delete
  6. I really enjoyed you story of your time with Kenzo I'm a very crowded place. He had decided that there were many things that could happen and decided to make sure they didn't. You also saw the situation the same way and made sure he was safe. A very strong bond between partners. A bond of love :)
    Sherrie, Lexie, and Mica

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for your nice words and I am glad you liked the story :)

      Delete
  7. Amy's comment made me laugh. I suddenly thought of Kenzo as an emissary from your wife, keeping you safe from spending too much money at restaurants and from attractive waitresses!

    Seriously, how nice that you can learn new facets of Kenzo's personality after all this time.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. haha, who knows? a feeling of being totally outsmarted by Kenzo does start to creep on on me. Either way he is a dog on a mission :)

      Delete
  8. Kenzo is so wise and it sounds like he did an excellent job of taking care of you. He clearly takes his role very seriously. I agree with the others in that I really admire the bond the two of you have. The fact that he was able to trust you had everything under control says a lot about your relationship.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Kristine, I know some would feel he is not socialized, not taking into account he is Hovawart, born to do this kind of guarding behavior. I am very proud of him, and the trust he had in me.

      Delete
  9. So many people rely on the dogs as pack animals trope to explain everything. But they never understand how many roles wild dogs or wolves take on in their family grouping.

    It appears Kenzo has lost none of the complexity of his wild ancestors. And understands that different roles require different responses.

    Aren't you thrilled your boy can still surprise you?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's the best gift, when K&V show they are a little more complex than I thought. And that they are not dependent beings, and can make their own decisions as well.

      Delete
  10. I have to tell you that I loved the story. Kenzo sure is an amazing dog. I must tell you about Coco. She is sadly no longer with us. But when she lived she was a true Hovawart on a mission. She was the kind of dog who loved an protected the whole family. At a time long after one of my daughters had left home and was travelling, she became very ill. She returned home and moved back in with us. She was in kemo treatment and was therefore very sick. Coco took up the role as private nurse. She was by the side of my daughter all the time. She only left her when we told her so. She learned to bring ice-packs up to Julie and bring the used ones down to the freezer. She called us for help, she pulleded the covers up and so on. When Julie was feeling up to going outside in the garden Coco walked right by her side. Never letting her eyes off her. It offcourse was a very hard time for the family to go tru, but the help of one beloved Hovaward made it a little easier. Thank you Coco, may you rest in peace. Ruth

    ReplyDelete

Blogger Template Created by pipdig