The following is copied from Victor Munchdahausen Von Zinzendorf’s Facebook page from April 10th, 2017, with permission.
Are we allowed to be serious (and quite wordy) for a moment here on Herr Zinzendorf’s page?
This is a common sight in our house. He goes where I go. If I move, he will wake himself and move as well. If there is a small space between me and any object or person, he will find it and monopolize it. I know a lot of dogs are this way but in our case, this is the result of a lot of work. Coonhounds, as I have learned, are a very different kind of dog. Victor has a very active and capable mind. He is constantly searching for ways to use it. He came to us at 9 months of age, missing his first Mama, unsure of what to make of these people who “dognapped” him, and missing his pack of dogs who were his social system at the rescue. He quickly realized that we were a good thing and then transferred that feeling to it being his responsibility to protect us from all others, whether we needed it or not. 😉
I realized I was in over my head with this sweet boy. My heart was broken. I didn’t know what to do with him to help him tolerate people he didn’t know. He wasn’t happy with our desire to interact with strangers in and out of our home and we can’t live a life where we don’t have people around him. My knight in shining armor came in the form of a dear friend who had trained her own pup as a search and rescue dog. With her help, Victor started boot camp at our house. It was not in my nature to control my dog’s every movement, every kibble, every nap. She assured me that if I did so, not only would Victor learn how to live in and around other people but we would end up with the dog to top all dogs in our family. He would offer us behaviors that would constantly entertain us and endear him to us. He would be loyal and faithful. He would be able to tolerate people he didn’t know petting him. I thought she was crazy and that it wasn’t possible but I committed to his boot camp for one month. She wrote out the plan. She helped me to understand how to execute it and why. I’m pretty sure she found my anthropomorphisms equal parts humorous and frustrating. She even took him for a long weekend while we had a break in the form of a family camping trip. Through this training process, she showed me that he needed this work and structure. He showed me that he not only would respond to it, and that he wouldn’t dislike me for it but that he would become so attached and devoted to me that he is, indeed, the dog of a lifetime. He didn’t really see people as playmates when he came to us, even with three kids in the house. One evening, about halfway through our boot camp we had a particularly great walk. Our walks were how we learned to work together and where he learned that we were a team and that he didn’t need to take care of me, that I would take care of him. We came home that night and he brought me his favorite little kitty toy, simply dropped it on my arm and walked away. He had never initiated play with any of us two-leggers and he still wasn’t but I truly believe he was giving me his most treasured possession as a recognition that I was trying to speak his language and help him find his place in our pack. It was the sweetest thing I have ever seen and perhaps it’s just me anthropomorphizing again, but I know he was telling me that he got it. That we had made a breakthrough. It doesn’t happen often to me, I’m too pragmatic, but he brought me to tears.
I tell you all of this because I want you to know that if you think a rescue dog, a smart dog, a hard to train dog, a hot mess of a thrown away dog or an imperfect dog who already lives in your home is too much…..maybe give them a chance. Take the time. Spend the energy and effort. You, too, may just end up with a “Once in a Lifetime” dog. Perfection may never be reached…you might just end up with something better.
And so many more thanks than I could ever verbalize or physically offer to my friend, Autumn at Steady Dog Training. You literally changed the course of our lives and I could never adequately repay you. I love that you have developed an appreciation for this whacky breed in your work with Victor as well. Your delight in his zany personality is a song to my heart. He is a product of both of our hard work but without you, I couldn’t have done it. I love you and we both know he does too.