It's been a quiet summer here in Bastland. With secure containment, my life simplified immensely; I can now toss Bast outside for 20 minutes so I can run errands as I think of them like a normal person. This is a vast improvement over having to keep a list of things I need to do, drop him off at daycare, and then race around to get everything I need for that week done in one afternoon while he's properly supervised.
Although things have calmed down in the "unexpected chaos" department, that's not to say that Bast isn't still being Bast.With summer here, Bast's very bestest human friend is back to fostering kittens for the local Humane Society and Bast has been enjoying the role of doggy ambassador for socialization.
The kittens, as you can imagine, are less thrilled about this than Bast is, but it looks much better on their adoption papers if we can honestly say "Good With Dogs." Given that Bast loves cats, he's a perfect companion to help get the kittens ready for canine encounters before they're put up for adoption.
In a few weeks, Bast will be 2 years old. For those who aren't familiar with wolfdogs, around this age is the time that many wolfdogs find themselves being rehomed or dumped at rescues, if they're lucky. Others simply get turned out in the countryside, and despite many peoples' mistaken beliefs that wolfdogs are wild animals, they are not capable of fending for themselves in the wild and can easily starve. Sadly, I've seen examples of exactly that situation happening, and I'm sure those heavily involved in rescue have seen many more.
|Behold the face of a natural hunter with his kill.|
Anyway. Around 2 is when most wolfdogs will hit maturity. In the wild, pure wolves are born in the spring and are not sexually active by the time the first mating season comes around that winter. This is true of higher content wolfdogs as well, and usually trickles down in lesser amounts to lower content wolfdogs. As they move into their second year, the hormonal mojo starts flowing and they change from pups to adults.
When first getting Bastas and trying to absorb all of this information, I was told that around 2 years old, his behavior would start to change, At the time, I had no idea what these people were trying to say. What do you mean, his behavior will change? Is he going to turn on me? I got this impression from people that my dog was a character in a fairy tale with a horrible curse:
Once upon a time, in a far away desert, there lived lived a peaceful, friendly dog who loved to play with kittens and dig holes in the yard. Long long ago, a witch placed a powerful curse on all dogs of his line, that at the stroke of midnight on the eve of their second name day, they would be overcome by the blood of their ancestors and go totally apeshit and eat everyone.
|OH MY GOD, HE'S EATING MANFLESH - Oh wait. That's a watermelon.|
As can be expected, I was way off. No, Bast is not in danger of "turning on me." There's not some magical switch inside a wolfdog's head that makes them lose their minds and become a wild animal as soon as they hit 2, so if you were hoping with this story ending with me being eaten, I'm afraid you'll be disappointed.
What has happened is a gradual increase in the intensity of his behaviors. Minor behaviors that he had as a puppy have intensified - it's like someone found the knobs in his noggin that control his reactions to things and cranked them up a few notches.
It's hard to explain. He's always been a whimsical creature - if you've read through some of my other entries, you're probably familiar with his habit of spooking and disappearing in the blink of an eye. Over the past few months, he's become even more prone to fits of odd behavior. Some of it is not as funny; as a puppy, Bast was always very friendly and outgoing. He never met a stranger and would walk up to anyone he met to demand petting. Gradually, so slightly that I didn't notice at first, he started losing some of his social attitude, until now he's much more guarded, especially around strangers.
I don't mean that he's antisocial - not really. He is still happy to meet most strangers, but he is much more easily overwhelmed in situations now than he was as a puppy. Being crowded around by too many people, especially adult men, makes him start shutting down and give off those doggy warning signs that he's being pushed too far - ears back, eyes wide, panting quickly with his tail low and slowly wagging in agitation. Being approached by someone who can't read these signs causes him to spook and bolt under my legs for reassurance, and I have to gently tell the well-meaning but oblivious stranger that he needs some space to be okay again.
|My favorite sullen grouch.|
This shutting-down happens a lot more frequently than it used to, a part of his maturity that makes me sad to see.
It's not all gloom and doom, though. Some of it, although irritating, has been entertaining - like his sudden switch to being nocturnal and wanting to be outside all of the time. This past week has been a combination of us both having to adjust to his new behaviors. As soon as it cools off here, Bast wants to be outside - all of the time. He pants and paces in the house until I let him out, and then won't come inside for hours. Nothing will persuade him to come back in before he's ready - not treats, not toys, not threatening to close the door - nothing.
Since his ever-present separation anxiety is an integral part of his personality, I still have to be accessible to him, though, or he busts down the back door in a panic. Our compromise, then, is for me to leave the back door cracked open. This allows him to peek his head in occasionally to reassure himself that I haven't disappeared into the ether, so now while tapping away at my computer, from time to time I see a small black flicker at the corner of my eye. He sticks one eye in, makes sure I haven't abandoned him, and then flits off like a sprite before I can get up to wrangle him inside.
As of writing this, it is now 12:39 AM. I tried to enforce a midnight curfew, but Bast's frantic stomping, punching, and whining to be let out wore me down and I let him go answer the call of the wild. My best friend Cait informs me that there is a super moon in 2 nights, and so I can only hope Bast's wolfy sickness waxes afterwards as well...