Even his response to his fears is bold. When intimidated, Rugby maintains a safe distance between himself and the object in question… then stalks and barks at it. That must be why the standard says “seems to be without fear.” It would be easy for a dog savvy person to recognize Rugby’s display of fear as just that, it could easily be mistaken as a bold and brave gesture to someone else.
Rugby is overwhelmingly confident in himself. I have tried my best to encourage that confidence and keep him believing that he is the most important, cutest and smartest dog in the world. He has never met a dog or person he was afraid of. No chickens, horses or goats intimidate Rugby either. He isn’t afraid of the hair dryer, the nail clippers, cars, kids, toys or heights. If you remember, I had a very big problem when he was a puppy of him announcing his presence whenever he would get out of the car… or walk through a door… or meet someone new. He was a little too confident. His posse of Doberman Pinscher bitches didn’t help much either. He collects and then manages them. That is a big job for such a little dog and he loves it.
He is not entirely without fear, though. What dog is? He is afraid of cats, and he is afraid of the vacuum cleaner. Naturally, he is also afraid of falling from high places and of being stepped on. I encourage those fears. Those fears will help to keep him safe. With these exceptions, Rugby is without fear. There have been very few situations that were different enough to cause Rugby to doubt himself.
Our neighbors across the hall from us had a wreath full of fake flowers hanging on their front door. One day, a flower had fallen and laid just off of their door mat. Rugby and I came in from outside and he let out a ferocious bark and froze about four feet away from the invading flower. He leaned forward to investigate and I helped him face his fear with, “Rugby, Fetch.” He inched along all the way to the mat and at the last second SNATCHED – as in took with vigor, enthusiasm and desire to kill – the flower and offered it proudly to me. He had prevailed. Now any monsters in the hallway are only worthy of a glance before Rugby goes on his way. That is the extent of Rugby’s fear.