If you know David and me, then you know all about our crazy dog Juneau. Juneau doesn’t get his fair share of attention on the blog, but I find myself sharing all about him to people and I figured he deserved a blog post telling his story, too!
Juneau’s Adoption Story
David and I started dating in October of 2010. In January of the following year, we adopted Juneau. Much like everything else in the early days of our relationship, adopting a dog was totally on a whim.
I grew up with dogs and knew I would want one for my own. David and I used to go to the local SPCA just to check in, but one fateful Saturday we walked in without a plan, and walked out with a fluffy puppy we named Juneau.
The best part? We both had to work that night and decided to dump our brand new puppy off with David’s mom and step-dad within an hour of adopting him!
Juneau was just 8 weeks old when we adopted him. He was given to the SPCA along with his brother and sister after being found on the side of the road! His original papers said he was a German Shepherd/Lab mix, but we later did a DNA test on him that revealed neither of those to be true!
The Crazy Side of Juneau
Juneau has always been a high-strung dog. When he was little, he used to bite his crate and whine/bark/howl whenever we left. He would fight to get out of the crate so hard and at times, he would succeed! We’ve lost countless stuffed animals, shoes, lots of food, couches, and even a down comforter to Juneau’s ridiculousness. We eventually even lost the crate because he bent the metal so badly he would just escape.
We figured Juneau just had separation anxiety. We tried everything on the market that claimed to reduce his anxiety – blankets, CBD oil, music, etc. Nothing seemed to work. Over time, we just chalked his behavior to “being Juneau” and claimed we had the craziest dog in the world.
When I got pregnant with Finn, Juneau’s behavior seemed to worsen. He started barking and spinning at the door whenever we came or went. If someone came over to visit, he would follow them everywhere they went, nip at their heels if they walked near the door, and would not. calm. down.
When Finn was born, Juneau’s behavior heightened again. We moved to our house last year, and thought that giving Juneau space and freedom to run would help with his anxiety, but it didn’t. Of course at the same time, I became pregnant with Reese, and we noticed Juneau’s anxiety worsen again.
At our new house, Juneau started new behaviors. He barks at doors closing, and bites the door knobs. He wouldn’t let guests walk across the room without whining and trying to bite their heels. He picks one guest and sticks by their side the entire time they are over. At times, he randomly starts barking and cannot be calmed down.
The funny thing is, when it’s just us – David, Finn, Reese and me – Juneau is super chill. But if we are getting ready to leave, or if we have guests over, he is on alert.
He has all sorts of weird behaviors – he hates the sound of my camera clicking, he runs from window to window when someone goes outside – even when the door is wide open and he can follow them, he lays outside the bathtub when we are in the shower, he gets bent out of shape when my dad is around, particularly when he says the phrase “Ok. I’m off like a prom dress!” LOL!
The Reason Juneau is the Way He Is
A few months before Reese was born, I decided it was time to reach out to a trainer. It wasn’t fair to Juneau, or to ourselves, to continue to watch him get stressed in very normal situations.
Juneau’s DNA test revealed that he is a mutt – a mix between Chinook, Australian Shepherd, Chow-Chow, and Collie. When we told the trainer this mix, she explained that Juneau’s breeds are herding and working dogs. He was essentially born with the instinct to herd. His behavior heightened initially when I became pregnant with Finn because he knew his pack was growing, so his herding tendencies amplified. Again, when we moved and became pregnant with Reese, his responsibilities to his pack grew again, and he became even more intense.
The trainer helped us understand Juneau so much more than we thought. Juneau wasn’t anxious or aggressive, he was just being protective and trying to keep his pack together. When we are all together, he is fine because his job is complete. When guests come over, he is on high alert, and if someone tries to leave, that goes against his instincts of keeping the pack together.
The other interesting part that the trainer explained – Juneau will never bite harder than he does today. In other words, a dog’s bite ranges between 1 and 7 – 1 being basically nothing, 7 being hospital bound. Juneau bites at a 2, so when he does nip at your heels when you visit, you have nothing to worry about!
The trainer told us that Juneau loves to work and to be challenged. She told us to work with him to associate someone leaving with something positive – like giving him treats. Now, when we have guests, we give Juneau a Kong with peanut butter in it so he is distracted and he has positive reinforcement.
The Best Dog Ever
Juneau is a tough dog, but is seriously the best. He has been with David and I since the very beginning. He traveled to New Mexico, North Carolina, and Indiana with us. He has stayed with my parents in New York for months at a time and to this day, when we turn down their road, he starts whining excitedly.
Juneau has also never gotten aggressive with Finn or Reese. He is so patient, allowing Finn to climb on him, pull his tail, even ride him! He is so sweet with the babies, and it melts my heart.
He is fiercely loyal and super cuddly. Juneau sleeps on our bed every single night. He loves David so much, they have a special bond.
I’m so grateful we reached out to the trainer. Understanding Juneau’s background and why he is the way he is only made me love him more. He is crazy and stressful and there will never be another dog like him!