(spoiler: I mostly just needed a place to vent, though any advice would be great!)
This is Cooper. He's around 3 years old. He's a Doberman terrier mix. A rescue twice over. He is adorable, loving, and a huge fucking handful.
To avoid the quagmire of poorly explained emotions, turn to page 26
My partner and I got him this past week. We knew he would be a lot to deal with. He's very reactive to other dogs (barking, lunging), and has a boatload of energy. That's okay, we thought - we have a lot of time on our hands, we can just take him for walks.
We live at the end of a cul-de-sac. Turns out, every single house (except for one) owns at least one dog, most own two. They almost all have fenced in front yards, where their dogs are always running around. This means that the furthest we can get without Cooper getting freaked out is about 20 yards, on a good day.
That's okay, we thought - we have a fenced in yard too, and the neighbor on the other side of the fence doesn't have a dog!
Turns out that there's a reason for that.
Mrs. Jenkins, pt. 1
Our neighbor is named Mrs. Jenkins. She told me her first name once a few months ago, but everyone seems to just call her Mrs. Jenkins. She's about 80 years old, and has lived in her house for 52 years. I live at the edge of Cully, one of the historically black sections of Portland. Mrs. Jenkins and her family are one of two remaining black families on my block - the rest are, largely, white couples under the age of 30. A few families that have been here for a while, but it's mostly renters.
Mrs. Jenkins, I learned yesterday, is terrified of dogs. She was chased by a pack of dogs and bitten when she was a child - I don't know much more of the context than that. Her house is adjacent to 5 other houses - each and every one of those houses has a dog. Her yard is fenced in on all sides, and there is a beautiful garden along the perimeter. Tending to this garden seems to be one of her favorite activities, and she spends most of the morning doing so.
Cooper is good with people. Sure, he gets excited when I get home, but he doesn't bark at people otherwise.
Except, of course, at Mrs. Jenkins. And her family.
The Last Owners
I don't know much about Cooper's past - we got him from a couple who were living in an apartment complex on the outskirts of Portland. It was... not so great. They were hoarders, and had been feeding him pretty much only hot dogs. He had a shock collar on, which they gave us for free. It was clearly meant for their other, bigger dog. On our walk to the car, his owner Vince was giving me advice on being the "alpha", and letting me know that he tried the shock collar on himself, and the highest setting wasn't too bad, so that's what he uses on Cooper.
This couple had gotten Cooper from a shelter. He was going to be euthanized soon if they didn't adopt him, because he had gotten into a serious fight with another dog before and his owners abandoned him. I guess he was in a pretty rough condition when they got him. They told me that if he attacks another dog again and the owner alerts Animal Control, he'll be killed.
They don't know much about his first owners, but they think he was being trained to be a guard dog.
Mrs. Jenkins, 2
Back to Mrs. Jenkins. She has tarps on all sides of her fence, except for the side connected to us. She put them up because she was afraid of the dogs that kept jumping at the fence when she was gardening.
She's putting up some tarps on our side today. Cooper hasn't lunged at her or anything, but he barks at her when she's gardening. Again, she and her family are the only people I've seen Cooper bark at.
I don't know if this is a thing that is even possible, but I think the dog's first owners might have trained him to bark at any people of color he saw. I feel more than a little insane for thinking that. Even if not, I have no idea why the only person that he barks at is the one person in all of Portland who doesn't like dogs.
I feel acutely aware of the fact that I am starting to impose on a neighborhood that was once largely black. All my anxieties about becoming a part of gentrification are coming to a head, and I'm having a hard time dealing with it all.
I know that these are small problems that feel dire just because I've been getting less sleep than usual. I'm waking up earlier to take Cooper out, because I can actually take him for a walk at 6 AM without worrying about other dogs. And if I stay up till 1 AM, the other dogs are asleep already, and I can walk him then.
I've been spending a few hours a day doing leash training with him. He doesn't pull as much anymore, which is a start. I know that his pent up energy is the biggest problem here, and once I can actually walk him safely, everything else will start to fall into place. He can go to sleep sooner, and hang out in the yard without freaking out. I can slowly socialize him with other dogs. Mrs. Jenkins can take down some of her tarps.
It all takes a lot of time. I just want everyone to be okay in the meantime.
TL;DR: Any advice for getting Cooper some indoor exercise while I'm working on leash training him? I've been playing tug of war, and he's getting a lot of his food out of a Kong now, which tires him out a bit. He can also walk around in our yard, as long as our neighbor is inside and he is on a leash.