What if I’m the problem?

My kids behave better for Grandma than they do for me.

Leo’s been coming with me to work most of the time, because I didn’t want to burden Rob’s mom with having to come over every single day, twice, to let the dogs out without letting them actually come into contact with each other.

Until I had an excursion where I had to leave my car in a parking lot while I took a shuttle to an island, and I couldn’t bring Leo. (The governor was there!) Grandma was happy to come over and watch the kids, and I warned her to be very, very careful, because Isis had been being very aggressive toward Leo during some of our training exercises. She asked if she could have them in the backyard, separated by the dog run gate. I said sure, as long as Isis didn’t act aggressively toward him at all.

Grandma reported that they were perfect. So perfect that she thinks they ought to be allowed to play together, but of course she respects my wish that they be kept apart until Isis is ready. (Implied: Until I am ready.)

I tried this exercise with the dog trainer last week and by myself over the weekend. Several times, Isis barked at Leo. Not always out of aggression; sometimes she seemed to want to play. But Grandma claimed that Isis didn’t bark at all for her. Can this be believed?

Last night, Grandma was in the kitchen and I put Isis out back, with Leo in the dog run. Almost immediately, Isis started barking. I said, “See, this is what she does for me.” Grandma came outside and did some Isis Whispering. I believe it was, “Isis, be nice to your brother,” and Isis stopped barking. Grandma gave them both cookies.

Granted, Grandma is very good with the dogs, but I think I need to accept/address the fact that I give off very nervous energy because I am afraid of what Isis is going to do.

Our neighbors have a golden retriever and a yippy Pomeranian. When our fence was down, Isis ran over there and got snarly with the golden a few times. Leo has made friends, though, and plays with them in their yard sometimes. Once, when I was not present, Isis slipped out and “played” with the golden and did not eat the Pomeranian. Rob was pretty quick to get Isis to come back, but all reports indicate that Isis was perfectly appropriate.

Last week, one of the neighbors tried to come in our yard to bring us a plate of cupcakes. His dogs came with. I saw the dogs, and said to Rob, “No. Get them out.” Isis ran over to them with her ball in her mouth. Rob said, “She’s OK with them.” I said, “Not in our yard.”

Snarling ensued. It took some effort for Rob and the neighbor to separate the dogs. Neighbor said later that he was surprised his dog fought back. (Which is reassuring only because it means he doesn’t think Isis was the only one aggressing.) No one was hurt.

But. Would Isis have aggressed if I hadn’t been there? Did she aggress BECAUSE I was nervous that she would aggress? When I said, “Get them out.” “Not in our yard,” did she read that as Momma telling HER, “Get those dogs out. They don’t belong in our back yard.”

Maybe the kids would get used to each other faster if I didn’t bring Leo to work. Take my nervous energy out of the picture and let Grandma train them every day.

Published by Kari Neumeyer

Writer, editor, dog mom, ovarian cancer survivor

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