Having a dog means loving a dog, and that love is unconditional… even if the dog in question has strange, somewhat embarrassing quirks. Let’s face it, some quirks can add to the overall cuteness of a dog. For instance, if your pup does that sneaky ninja-style move where they nose your arm around their neck to cuddle… that’s endearing. But pet quirks are not always positive, and in fact, can be a bit of a hassle to navigate– especially in public. If you’re reading this article, chances are that you know exactly what I’m talking about, and perhaps clicked this link to feel a sense of camaraderie about the fears of your four-legged friend. You’ve come to the right place.
Marston, my 2-year-old Husky/German Shepherd mix is a complete nut job. A lovable nut job, yes, but crazy all the same. I adopted him from an animal shelter in Northern Colorado in August of 2011. When I found his fuzzy face online, he had just been transferred to the shelter from an overpopulated kennel in Kansas. Marston was a perfect angel when I went to visit him at the shelter. He was friendly, walked well on-leash, and seemed to get along with other dogs. It wasn’t until he started to settle in at home that I noticed the idiosyncrasies that make up Marston. Prepare yourself for what lies ahead.
1) Marston is scared of skateboards. Actually, “scared” is an understatement. Horrified, petrified, filled with terror– all better descriptions. I’ve heard before that some dogs avoid things on wheels, such as bikes, rollerbladers, cars, etc. When I think of a dog being frightened of something, I associate that with them generally steering clear of it. Marston, however, attacks skateboards head-on. On more than one occasion, he has lunged at a passing skateboard and knocked the boarder off to the side (luckily, they’ve been understanding). We live on a college campus, so skateboards are a constant and cannot easily be avoided. I’ve tried everything to distract Marston’s attention from the boards… treats, squeaky toys, a series of quick prayers… nothing works. And yet, he will let some of my student workers take him on walks, with him pulling them on their boards. Your guess is as good as mine on that one.
2) Marston absolutely abhors my iPhone ringer. I haven’t pinned down whether it is the specific ringer he doesn’t like, or just the noise in general (I don’t get too many phone calls— don’t judge me). When my phone rings and he is anywhere within a 10 foot radius, he heads for the hills. Before you question if my phone ringer is something obnoxious like that Harlem Shake song (which is in no way actually representative of Harlem), it’s not. I have the default iPhone ringer. A hypothesis I have is that Marston associates the ringer with my alarm to get up in the morning since it’s the same tone). One thing that Marston and I have in common is that we are not morning creatures.
3) Marston is scared of the bathtub faucet… being turned off. I’m one of those overkill pet owners that let my dog chill next to me on the floor when I’m taking a bath. Call it desire for company, call it laziness to get out of the tub once I realize I left the bathroom door open, whichever you prefer. Marston is completely content while I am running water to fill the bath. I even have to stop him from trying to drink the water directly out of the faucet, because even after a handful of less-than-desirable experiences, he can’t seem to deduce that my bath water is hot. When the tub is full and I shut off the running water, Marston stares at the faucet. When he realizes no more water is coming out, he looks at me and cries. I thought the association I was making between the two was stupid, but I turned the water on again to see if he’d relax. Once the faucet was back on, he laid on the ground contently. Colorado is pretty focused on water conservation. Maybe I just have a green pup?
4) Marston is discriminatory against people who wear gloves. As stated prior, we live in Colorado. It snows here… quite a bit. Gloves are commonplace. When glove-wearers approach Marston and attempt to pet him, he cowers and hides behind me. Hats, scarves, even ski masks are all hunky-dory with Marsty. But gloves are a deal-breaker. Maybe he was a cop in a former life– “hands where I can see them…”
5) Marston’s internal GPS might beat out Garmin. If we are in the car and on the way to the vet, he starts freaking out the moment we turn onto the road that leads to something like 5 other roads that we need to take to actually GET to the vet. The same is true if we head in the SAME DIRECTION as the dog park. He’s a very egocentric dog when it comes to travel, I guess.
6) Marston herds humans. Prior to adopting Marsty and experiencing being herded myself, I was unaware that huskies or German Shepherds were herders (alright, I know I should have gathered that from shepHERD). The way Marston herds people is unique. If someone tries to walk away from him and he feels that his companionship needs have not been appropriately met, he grabs their shoes in his mouth and literally pulls the person back towards him. He doesn’t do this violently… it seems to be more out of desperation to not be alone, which is sad. Marston was a stray prior to when I adopted him, and most of his odd behavior I attribute to being a lost, lonely puppy. As he’s gotten older, he’s scaled back on his herding, and almost never does it now, which is a plus. But I’m still reminded of the habit whenever I grab my Crocs and see all the tooth marks from back-in-the-day when he grabbed them as well.
7) Marston runs laps in the hallway of my apartment. He’s a young dog, and with his breed combination, his energy level makes a lot of sense. At the end of the hallway is a door leading to my bedroom. On the outside of the bedroom door is a full-length mirror. Sometimes, when Marston is extremely distracted by his running routine, he forgets there is a door at the end of his path and slams into it. Before he regains his composure to continue running, he sees his reflection in the mirror and freaks out. Occasionally, the reflection thing happens as he is in the process of running down the hallway, causing him to bark, and then reroute pretty quickly. This once happened while I was listening to “Man in the Mirror” while doing computer work, which I found both coincidental and hilarious.
8) Marston is not supportive of dogs with disabilities. Let me tell you a story. Once upon last year, Marston was enrolled in “advanced” dog class at a local PetsMart. He was progressing nicely until a dog named Beau joined his class. Beau is Newfoundland and only has one eye. I didn’t even notice Beau’s missing eye until the trainer pointed out that it might be the reason Marston refused to go into the same room with him. We tried everything to get the two acquainted, with no success. Literally, 30 minutes of each 45-minute class would be spent trying to even get Marston to enter the classroom, which was not fair to anyone involved (dogs, as well as their fee-paying humans). Beau is a very well behaved dog and tolerated Marston’s lack of manners, but I couldn’t. I ended up having to take Marston to private training sessions that he didn’t even graduate from because his trainer skipped town and never came back.
9) Marston is a happy humper. I know a lot of dogs hump their peers, especially young male dogs. But Marston doesn’t just hump his dog friends. He humps their heads. I don’t even really know what else to say about that.
10) Marston, regrettably, is what I call a “poop walker.” The term means exactly what it sounds like… Marston squats and waddles around the lawn when he does his business. This is by far the most embarrassing thing Marsty does. His poop walking has deterred previous volunteer dog walkers from wanting to take him out a second time. It also draws a lot of stares. Marston doesn’t seem to care who sees him go while he “goes.” Perhaps his perspective is that it’s stranger that so many passersby watch him poop. That’s a pretty logical viewpoint, actually…
Though I make some speculations above (some serious, most humorous) as to the cause of my dog’s quirks, I know those strange tendencies are what ultimately make him mine… that is, unless one of you is interested in taking him off my hands. Honestly, the poop walker thing isn’t THAT embarrassing….