Therapeutic dog camp for anxious chocolate labs

We have had a third dog in our house this past week. Angela and Tom went down to Georgia with the kids to visit her dad and for her to attend a conference in Atlanta. Their chocolate lab needed a place to stay, so I offered to bring him over. I knew what we were volunteering for, so it seemed reasonable. Their dog Benjamin (affectionately known as Bobo unless he's in trouble), has a bit of an anxiety disorder. It's possible it actually came from brain damage when he hit his head badly on the coffee table as a puppy. I was trying to explain it to my father because he was going to be watching Bobo for us the first weekend. Angela described it as, "Bobo is agoraphobic and scared of most things. This becomes an issue when he will hurt himself trying to escape the things that scare him."

I have experience with chicken dogs. While Mollie looks like a vicious Rottweiler mix, she is scared of storms, fireworks, the microwave, the door ajar beep on the fridge, and certain ringtones on my phone. Bobo is actually pretty brave about most of those things. He's just scared of bicycles, cars, men with deep voices and being alone.

He has been my shadow all week. When I shower, he sleeps on the mat outside the tub. If I'm at my computer, he's on the dog bed immediately next to it. If I want him to go outside, I just have to walk outside and he'll certainly follow me. Being such a large dog, it can make for some tight spaces. And holy wow his tail is loud as it hits the sink vanity and the tub over and over while I'm sitting on the toilet.

Bobo gets a bad reputation for being high maintenance, but he's actually an exceptionally good dog. He is 100% house trained. He is incredibly gentle with other dogs, cats and kids of all ages. And he certainly won't attack a stranger since he more concerned with hiding from them. He hardly ever barks. He eats food casually so you don't have to schedule his meals.

Angela even said that when visiting her dad and sister, their dog was not used to kids and bit their son (no skin broken but lots of tears and some bruising). Her kids have been spoiled by sweet docile Bobo.

I took him for walks in the evening with my other two dogs. There are fewer cars and bikes at 9pm usually, and he did very well. The pack helped keep him in line. I did find, though, that three dog leashes get considerably more tangled that just two. They can braid them versus just twisting them.

The whining for no good reason can get a little tiring, but our dogs have been known to whine with less provocation too. You just can't fuss at him because it will make him even more nervous. There's a lot of just saying, "I know, Bobo. It's okay, Bobo."

It was very late last night and Rich and I were both still up puttering on the computer. I turned to him around 11:30pm and said, "I'm gonna go to bed." Right about then, my shadow popped up too. I amended my statement and said, "Bobo and I are going to bed."

Angela and Tom are home now so Bobo is reunited with his pack. He's a slight pain in the ass, but most other living things are in one way or another and he has a lot of redeeming qualities. We've had a good week. I still look forward to showering in peace, though.

Bobo in motion

happy Bobo

sleepy Bobo