When people ask what it is like to ‘own’ a wolf dog it can be tricky to answer.
Firstly, although we bought and paid for Tuchena I don’t belive we ‘own’ her. We are definitely responsible for her, but that is different. If anything, she ‘owns’ us!
She is the most loving, gentle and affectionate dog I know but that hasn’t come easily. It has taken a long time to build her trust and I am sure that we could easily lose it, should we allow her to come to harm in any way.
She looks to us and our two Labs for guidance and is usually cautious of new people, dogs & situations initially. She will also tell us what she thinks of someone and we have to make sure we are listening with our eyes. By this, I mean we need to watch her body language, as once you learn to hear what she is telling you with her body it couldn’t be clearer. It is the same as her shouting her opinion at you…you just have to learn to speak her language first!
This is most evident with people who are nervous of her and are trying to hide it. She knows, she can hear their heart beat and literally smell their fear. Scent to a dog is a massive indicator and it is not something a human can control. She needs to know why you are afraid? Should she be afraid? Is she in danger? Are you the danger?
Usually in this situation Tuchena will continue to ‘test’ the person concerned, this mainly involves pestering them heavily. For someone confident with large dogs, this wouldn’t be a worry, but for the nervous (which in this case they are) they can end up more scared by the time she has finished with her interrogation. Thankfully in these situations she will look to our two Labs; Hendrix & Otis, for guidance. If they are calm and un-bothered by the person concerned she usually accepts that there is no danger, nothing to worry about, and will then settle.
She is also very tuned in to movement. If she sees any sudden movement she can go from rest to fully alert in a nano-second. This means you need eyes in the back of your head when out in the fields with her and we have to ask visiting children not to run if they don’t want to be chased!
She is fast and has stamina to boot – imagine a greyhound that never tires and you are getting close. She is ridiculously intelligent and learns quickly if she thinks it is interesting enough to bother learning in the first place. She eats slowly and gently, ensuring each morsel is safe to eat as she is very suspicious. (you can’t easily hide wormer in her food, the last time we tried she just flipped the bowl over and walked off!)
She is affectionate when it suits her, when she is sleepy and wants a cuddle she is gentle and persuasive, she will gently paw at you to get you to rub her tummy and she will creep up on the sofa with out you noticing she has even done it.
She has changed the way we communicate with dogs and has taught us how to understand them better. She will continue to teach us every day and I believe she will make us better dog owners. We have to give thought to every situation we put her in and weigh up if the experience will be beneficial for her or not. If not, we don’t do it regardless of how much we may want to. An example of this is camping. We haven’t been at all this year as we don’t think Tuchena is ready. Leaving her behind is not an option, so we have turned down lots of invitations for camping weekends. Maybe next year…..maybe not! We didn’t give this situation a second thought with the Labs, we just went along. Luckily they are pretty bomb-proof, but I am not sure I would take the risk with any future dog. From now on, every dog that ‘owns’ us will benefit from what Tuchena is teaching us, regardless of size or breed.
Thanks Tuchena for sharing your wisdom with us, being patient with us when we get it wrong or don’t understand and for still loving us at the end of the day! xxx