Friday, April 12, 2013

My Wish for Zoe

As many of you know, Micah and I adopted an Italian mastiff in October 2011. Zoe is now 21 months old and while she has learned a great deal, she still has some learning to do when it comes to interacting socially with other dogs. 

Zoe in her new t-shirt.
Part of it is her breed; Italian mastiffs are known for being territorial and protective. Good traits for a guard dog but not great for creating a social butterfly. 

Part of it is her size. Being 90 pounds, she's a lot for other dogs to deal with. Many times, they get overwhelmed by her size and panic, causing Zoe to overreact.

Obviously, she can get along well with other dogs. Just look at how she interacts with her pug sister. They love each other and play extremely well together. She's also made friends with the ridgeback that lives across the hall from us. But it involves time and patience, things we don't necessarily have when going for a walk or potty break. 

Zoe and Emma, puppy kisses!
I just got back from taking her for an afternoon walk in the park behind our apartment. We left the pug at home so I could focus solely on Zoe. For the most part, she behaved and listened when I told her to sit or stay close. But the part that made me sad was the way that she looked longingly at the black lab and boston terrier pups playing together in the center of the field. She wants to badly to join them and to be able to romp and play with the others. 

But too many times, I've seen a happy play time go wrong with her. She doesn't understand her size and that while little dogs can bark and yip and sound playful, her barks sound threatening and scare other dogs and their owners. Once the other dog acts aggressive towards her, she pins it to the ground and growls at it. Thankfully, she's not a biter.

My wish for Zoe is that someday she could prove to us that she could be trusted to play, or even simply greet, the other dogs that we encounter on our daily walks. I feel terrible depriving her of these play times but we just can't take the risk.