We have been curious about Gizmo’s life before he was with us. Was he loved and then put up for adoption? Was he a stray, living the wild life on the street before being found? What were his experiences before he arrived at our safe heaven?
We got a small clue one morning when I leashed him and took him out the side door for a walk. There was a garbage truck loading cans from our next door neighbor’s home and it was making the loud, rumbling, cranking sounds normal for garbage trucks.
Gizmo panicked. He pulled back on his leash so suddenly that it was yanked out of my fingers. He turned and, despite the temptation of a really fun walk in front of him, tried to run directly back into the house.
I stepped on his leash, preventing him from going any further. Then he crouched down, making himself as small and as close to the ground as he could. His tail was down, way down. So were his eyes.
I had to pull on the leash to convince him to go out the door.
As soon as he got up on all four legs, he rushed through the door, pulling on his leash with all his might, while trying to arc as far away from that garbage truck as he could. He continued this full-fright behavior, walking/running/pulling to get away from either the truck or the sound it was making.
It was not until we were a full block away that he calmed enough to slow down a bit and I could begin to continue to teach him to heel.
Similarly, a couple of days ago we were walking down a street and saw two trucks, pointed in opposite directions and parked there, mostly blocking the street. They were large vehicles carrying gardeners’ tools, including nearly a dozen lawn mowers. The drivers were talking to each other and not at all bothered that they were blocking the road because there was no other traffic there at the time.
That was the first time Gizmo panicked because of a truck. He pulled to the side of the road farthest from the trucks. And he looked as if he were about to be crushed.
What caused this new (to us), fright-filled reaction? Had Gizmo, before he got to us, been endangered or injured by a truck? Had he actually lived on the street somewhere and learned to be wary of large trucks?
We’ll never know. It was part of the mysterious background of our beloved dog.
"No animal should ever jump up on the dining room furniture unless absolutely certain that he can hold his own in the conversation." --Fran Lebowitz