When we decided to get a Labrador, I felt pretty confident that Lila would possess an impeccable temperament.  I also assumed I would be the ultimate owner.   Enrolling her in puppy preschool.   Doing gentling exercises like touching her ears, mouth and tail during her meals.  Even dropping to the floor to “share” bones.  Insisting that every passing stranger give her a pat.  Inviting all sorts of dogs to our property.  Taking her to play at an off lead park.

As the weeks ticked over, I could feel a certain smugness creeping in.   Whenever someone else’s dog did something wrong, I would secretly think to myself, “Lila would never do that.”   I tried to conceal my smugness, but smugness has a way of sneaking out with a sideways glance or a telltale tone.  And it usually comes back to bite you.  [read more below]

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When I watched Lila play with other dogs, I would beam with pride at her social skills.  She was fitting in beautifully.  Never giving a growl or even a curl of the lip.  So much nicer than some of the others.   Until yesterday morning.   To my horror, she had joined a pack at the park.  A pack intent upon pinning down her best friend!  Not exactly a fight, but not fun either.  Certainly not for the poor dog at the bottom of the heap.   

Naturally, I was mortified because of course MY dog never behaves like that.   I wanted badly to lay blame.   She had fallen in with the wrong crowd.  She was under the influence of that crazy kelpie cross.  If she’d been on her own, it would never have happened.  (That part at least may have been true.)  Oh!  And what about the unseasonably cool weather?   Maybe she was overly excited.   My self-talk was expansive, but deep down inside I knew I’d hit a harsh reality:  my little Lila had now truly entered adolescence and its challenges would be great.

[If you have received this post by email, please click “dog downunder” or “oh no…my dog’s an adolescent” in order to view accompanying video in a web page.]