Today I took Murphy to Harpers Ferry. And being a nice fall day, the place was packed to overflowing with visitors, a large percentage of which were families with kids.
Now Murphy, as readers may recall, has a history of abuse at the hands of kids, so he's not always the most tolerant of them. In fact, most of our outings here have resulted in at least one attempt by Murphy to snap at someone, usually young boys around 10-12 years old. The problem is enhanced of course by the fact that he's a beautiful dog that everyone wants to pet him, often without asking my permission first. And all goes well until the wrong person, identifiable only by Murphy, gets too close, at which point he lunges and snaps at them without warning. He's never connected with anyone yet, but that's mainly because I'm always watching him closely, ready to reef back on his leash and pinch collar as soon as he tries anything. Still, the last thing we need is a bite incident, so for a while I've refrained from bringing him out here.
But he's been doing well lately in every other venue I've taken him to, so I decided to give him another try at Harpers Ferry. To be honest, I thought that it wouldn't be crowded today because of the recent bad weather, but as it turned out, I was wrong and the place was packed. But since we were already there...
I'm pleased to report that Murphy was perfect today, with no displays of aggression of any kind. (Well ok, he didn't want to let the uniformed park ranger approach him while he was in the car, but that one I can excuse because he was protecting "his" car...and he did make nice with her once I took him out.)
We spent a couple of hours wandering around, and Murphy allowed anyone who wanted to pet him to do so, from tiny children to senior citizens, and this included several kids in the danger age. In fact, there wasn't the slightest hint of any fear or aggression on Murphy's part today despite the fact that he probably came into contact with more people than he has at any previous outing here. He even responded well during some off-leash training in a small fenced area and sat patiently on a restaurant deck as I drank a beer, both times while surrounded by other people. Can this really be the same dog who was trying to leap an 8-foot fence to kill me when I first saw him less than a year ago? Is this really the same dog that repeatedly turned on his foster handler and others whom he'd been adopted out to before I met him?
You've come a long way, Audie Murphy. And I'm proud of you.
I'se a good dog!
I can has ice cream!