I jumped to the side as Lulu yelped and lunged forward, spotting the puff of fluff attached to the back of her leg. Rushing forward, I snatched up the little Shih Tzu, and shoved it behind me. I needed as much distance as possible between Lulu and her attacker.
Lulu whirled, and I settled into my linebacker stance as her eyes settled on the Shih Tzu, her expression tightening into one of anger. In about one second flat, she completely escalated.
Everything happened so fast! In the same moment that she went from surprise to anger, she also went from zero to sixty and launched herself towards this poor bold, dumb little dog.
Lulu twisted in mid-air to try and get around me, but I managed to grab her thrashing body and pull her to me. I was pummeled by flailing limbs as she fought to escape. Her singing rang in my ears. I struggled to hold her tightly, knowing the small yapping dog at my feet stood no chance of defending itself.
“No, no, no,” I yelled as I struggled to hold Lu and push away the small Shih Tzu at the same time. The Shih Tzu leaped up my legs yapping frantically, which just served to increase Lulu’s thrashing. My world had become a blur of white, and I was going to be black, blue and deaf when this was all over.
I heard a distant “No Lulu, no!” and turned to see a man running across the street. He was bent over, trying to grab his tiny puff of vicious fur.
“Lulu won’t hurt you,” he said frantically as he ran around us in circles trying to grab his dog.
Really? Did he really think I was scared of his tiny little dog, and that my own Lulu was howling in fear?
“Grab your dog!” I yelled at him loudly. I backed up quickly, repeating this as his Lulu bounced frantically at my feet.
“I can’t hold her much longer,” I said through clenched teeth.
I watched as his eyes widened and realization flashed across his face. My dog was not afraid, and did not want to play. He lunged forward, grabbed his dog, and literally sprinted back across the street and up his stairs.
I dropped Lu immediately, pulling her leash up short as she lunged repeatedly after the retreating force, howling in frustration and anger. She was completely locked on her target and no amount of “leave it, no, away,” or any other command, was going to make her rejoin my world.
I pulled her well off the side of the road, and crouched down beside my furious dog. Her body trembled with the adrenaline coursing through her, but she had begun to slowly calm – her singing subsiding to whimpers and moans.
Suddenly, she turned to face me, and bowed her head, stepping forward to push it hard into my chest. I felt her sides heaving, but the breaths beginning to come more slowly.
My thighs burned as I squatted, not wanting to move and break the moment. This was the first time I had seen Lu try to control her reactions, or look to me for any type of support in these situations. I stayed motionless, waiting for her to calm.
She only stood that way for a moment before taking a step back and turning to look across the street to where the dog and owner had disappeared. I turned her rear end towards me and saw the blood on her back leg. There was a very small amount, but the other dog’s teeth had broken her thin skin.
We turned to head the two miles home, and I looked down to see her trembling. She was leaning into her leash and pulling – a habit we had just about broken. I’m sure it took time for adrenaline to drain from that much muscle.
I was frustrated by how this encounter may have set back Lu’s progress, but I was also pleased that for just an instant she had tried to control her own reactive behavior. Lulu lives her life via a rapid series of reactions. Having her change her behavior for even a small instant was an achievement.