The puppy is one year old. This should be a seminal date in his maturation process. But he’s a puppy with a puppy brain so of course it means nothing to him. He’s still a puppy with puppy desires: he wants to run and play and chew.

I have to admit to feeling some frustration at how slowly the process is going. He is physically growing very fast and like a teenage boy he’s a gangly goofball. But he rarely chills, and he still gets scared by strangers. So I wonder: is this fear of others going to stick? The good news is that he has done very well at doggy day care. The not so good news is that he tends to annoy other dogs – and their owners – at dog parks. The bad news is that my friend’s dog challenged him to a fight and he accepted. My poor friend had to break them up and Rufus’ strength nearly overwhelmed her.

Rufus is not territorial, and he is not angry.  I’ve had people over who can deal with him very well: Morriah (and her dog Rhettly), Ray, Darrell, Wyatt, Renee, and Renee’s cousins. He was lovely with them if not a little on the gassy side (ok, a lot on the gassy side).

But he barks at people. The barking is something I am trying to figure out: what is he saying with it? He barked at me in the alley that first night I brought him home. Sometimes at the dog park, back when we went, he’d pull out the tough-guy bark and most people could figure it out.

He’s stopped using me as a jungle gym, so there is something to be said for the maturation process overall. But he still likes to play with my feet, sometimes when I walk or sometimes when I’m just sitting here typing.

And when I told him “No” firmly when he was interested in the Christmas tree, he stayed away from it and has managed to maintain that boundary, even though it’s in the living room and there is interesting stuff over there.

The growing up is happening but it is in spurts and stops. There are some things I wish he’d get over immediately. But he’s not an independent breed like Sophie, so I think a lot of the “what are you doing in the next room?” attitude is going to stick. That I can handle. That is more than enough of a trade-off.

I worry about him with other people. He’s never gone after another person but even the vet gets a little nervous around him (one vet, anyway. The techs are awesome). And we got kicked out of obedience class. I won’t even mention the school here because I’m so disgusted with their attitude. (It rhymes with Law School and is on a road that rhymes with Shmoadway) We are trying walks where I keep using my calm voice around him and I don’t get angry with him.

This is what I hope he outgrows. Let me know if there are ways to calm nervous dogs out there. I dream of the day when he can be at ease with others knowing both he and I are safe.

And only because Rufus is now one, here is U2’s “One” (the Berlin version) that has absolutely zero to do with my dog. But it does remind of me of lovely days in Europe in the early 90’s

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