There is no doubt that Willow is a very sweet-natured dog. A lot of terriers like to play tug of war games with their toys, you can’t do this with Willow because as soon as you grab something she’s got she just lets go; if she’s chewing on anything, she lets you take it away from her without a murmur. She has a very gentle nature, however, we discovered that she does have a growl and a snarl in her.
The first surprise we had was when Daughter had a friend round to play. Willow had met the friend before and was quite happy and friendly around her, as she is around any people who come to the house. Having been playing upstairs the girls came downstairs where Willow was sitting by my feet. Immediately Willow started growling and snarling at the girls, it seemed totally out of the blue until I realised that both girls had liberally doused themselves in body spray. Unfortunately dogs can’t help acting on Impulse, it would seem. It didn’t matter what the girls did, Willow obviously didn’t like the smell and kept growling any time the girls were near. Luckily the friend had to go home soon after this and Daughter went upstairs and had a wash and everything was fine after that.
Then a couple of days before Christmas we were all sat watching a film on TV one evening. Willow had stretched out on the floor by the sofa and was fast asleep, in fact she was very deeply asleep. Son was sitting near her and got up to get something from the kitchen which woke Willow up but in doing so she went from deeply asleep to a little ball of growling snarling and snapping dog. It took us all by surprise and Son was taken aback that it was all directed at him. She calmed down relatively quickly and was rather subdued afterwards but we were all very aware of what could have happened if Son had been a much younger child. It was a very salutary lesson indeed.
Having done some research on the web, I can only conclude that it was a fear reaction caused by Willow going from sound asleep to suddenly awake and disoriented. She has not repeated the episode since then and as a family we have been very careful to wake her by calling her name if she is asleep and we need to wake her. She does not appear to have slept quite that deeply since but it is something that we are all very aware of. Thankfully it has not damaged the relationship between Son and Willow as he is aware of what caused it and it has been a useful lesson for him too. However, for the first time in my life I fully understand the old adage to let sleeping dogs lie.