Byzou is back safely in the loving arms of his human “Mommy” and the embraces of his four Briard friends and siblings in the countryside.

On the second day of his brief stay with us, we were encouraged by his coming up to us to be fed, petted, and walked. But a strange thing happened: He wouldn’t let us step into his space, and he became very aggressive if we did. In other words, if he came to us, everything was fine; but if we came towards him in any way, he would growl, bark, and bare his teeth menacingly.

No matter where he was lying, if either my wife or I tried to even just get past him to go into another room, he would react as if attacked. We found ourselves making detours around him just to get about our home. And he wasn’t getting better; if anything, as we deferred to him, he became even more dominant.

Clearly, Byzou was testing his position in the pack dominance hierarchy, and was finding himself King! And if I tried to assume dominance by scolding him, he became even more aggressive. Now it’s one thing to assume dominance over a puppy; by the time he’s full-grown, that dominance pattern is deeply embedded in his brain and there’s no going back. But I must confess, a big 75 lb. male dog growling and barring his teeth, is no place to test your dominance; and I’m no Cesar Millan (The Dog Whisperer).

In the end, he was simply too unpredictable: Affectionate and playful one moment, and then fearful and aggressive the next. We couldn’t see ourselves having to watch him constantly in the context of the constant stream of visitors that flow though our home.

The experience did remind me of a story though. My mother’s neighbor once confessed to her that her 20 year-old, 6’2, 240lb, bodybuilder/bouncer son would extort money from her and her husband, slapping them around if they weren’t forthcoming with the dough. My mother asked her when the first time was that he raised a hand to his parents. Her neighbor replied that it had started when he was 10 years old. My mother paused for a moment, reflecting, and then said to her neighbor: “You see Maria (not her real name), now it’s too late….if the first time he raised his hand, when he was younger and smaller, your husband reacted appropriately, he wouldn’t be raising his hand today”.

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