We have a generic herding dog mix who comes into work. He's a rescue, from an unknown situation, and he's a dog I would truly call "unpredictable." He has to be muzzled for all encounters because his warning signs are so slight and his threshold is so low. In the months since I've worked at the clinic, I take this appointment every time I'm available. He can be so sweet and he really seems to be "misunderstood" among other things. We get along okay and I think we've reached an understanding. (I have to preface this with... I do what I can at work, there are things I would do differently--like not pushing him over threshold, but I have to do my job in the best way I can.) The understanding is: he lets me muzzle him without any fuss and he can growl the whole darn time if he wants. When we're done, I take the muzzle off with as little fur pulling as possible and then he gets a treat.
I'm sure I could fill up pages upon pages based on my interactions with him, but one from yesterday deserves to be documented.
I got kisses, and I wasn't scared of him when he did it. We played "the muzzle game" in front of his owner (who has a healthy fear of him, and can't safely muzzle him herself) and he got SO DARNED EXCITED that he bopped me on the chin. His eyes lit up, he danced around, and he was so darned excited. He adores the muzzle game. I would classify my encounters with him previously as either neutral, or negative. Definitely not positive. Yesterday's encounter ended positively. I've never been more thrilled to see a dog put his ears up and look expectantly at me. He learned how to earn treats. Not that I would have allowed the kisses if he hadn't been acting the way he was. I don't know how to adequately describe it, but that boy was just... relieved, maybe?
Good boy. What a good boy he was.