Jeff and I have not had kids at home for years; consequently, all of our dogs have been quite shy of kids, the smaller the scarier, apparently. Pepper did, and Gillie does, bark madly when confronted with a toddler.
We do babysit occasionally. Last week, we had a friends' 18 month old boy with us. Gillie was very nervous and barky at first - we corrected her - then gave the boy some cheerios (my training tool of choice, for kids and dogs) to munch on. Alexander promptly offered Gillie a cheerio. She approached him very gingerly and gently took the goodie. After a couple of hours of this (one cheerio for Alex, one for Gillie, one for Alex, etc.) they were fast friends. At no time did Gillie try to muscle food away from Alex. She sat back and accepted gifts as he offered them to her.
In passing, she could have easily knocked him down and taken the bag. She weighed in at 59.75 pounds last week at the vet - we needed her under 60 to get a better price on the spaying job (they apparently charge by the pound at this vet's office) and she barely made it.
Also in passing, we had her hind dew claws removed as they were an accident waiting to happen, large and floppy. The vet used glue to seal the incisions. Bad mistake. The glue didn't hold well at all and we are now back in the dog-bandaging business for a couple of weeks. At least Hooch gave us some practice.
M.L. Church, Administrator
She's becoming much, much better around strangers and kids. Gillie was, I think, kind of isolated when Kathleen was staying with her aunt here in Oregon - they were on a farm up a country road, no neighbors, probably not many visitors, and she's in a similar situation at our place; I bring her into work in order to have her meet new people, get used to cars, buildings, noise, all the town stuff. She's outgrowing her early timidity....
She's also very beautiful - now weighs more than 60 pounds and is developing some dark guard hairs in the patches of her coat that were formerly solid sable. The dark face mask is still prominent and she The has a black bar across her tail. I'll have to take a fresh picture and post it.
She now goes riding with us regularly. Mostly she either runs alongside my stirrup or trails the horses. Occasionally she'll run ahead. She takes care to stay out from underfoot.
Gillie (littermate of Hannah, offspring of Scout & Belle) is now about one and one half years old. We (sadly) lost our big Chesapeake "Hooch" last fall - since his passing, Gillie has matured rapidly: she has become much less puppy-like, much steadier around the other animals, and more reserved when approached by outsiders.
She's intrinsically calmer than our other dog Pepper, who is McNab, Heeler & Border Collie. Gillie would probably be a much better herder (of ducks & chickens) if Pepper would allow her to handle that chore.
She's also very protective of members of the household. We have a foreign exchange student this year and Gillie has bonded firmly with Tasha - and vice verse. One day when the adults were gone, a brother in law came to the house. Gillie would not let him in the door (she didn't know him) - but stood between him and Tasha growling softly. Tasha didn't know him either, so was quite pleased that Gillie was so protective.
I'm wondering if the rather quick change in her personality has to do with Hooch's absence - it certainly seems to have occurred since he has been gone.
PS - Gillie now looks very much like her grandpa Rebel - her coat has darkened a bit over the shoulders but she's still sable & white, and fairly heavily built (about 70 pounds)with large feet.