Last Sunday Momi, Popi, and Ricky were invited to a holiday party. 16 people were in attendance from 18 months to Septuagenarians plus one other toy size dog. Ricky only knew two of the people there and he had never been to the house before. Ricky had been specifically invited.
WOW, Ricky is the ultimate party animal.
He made it his mission to meet everyone personally, jump on their lap, and interact with them. He was hyperactive, falling off the back of one sofa and knocking over an end table. He was doing his repertoire of tricks, often without being asked.
He had this constant open mouth "grin" on his face with his tongue hanging out. I put a cute doggie Santa's hat on his head and he promptly shook it off and started to shred it, much to everyone's delight, except mine! He thought it was the best party he had ever been to.
Now I realize this doesn't reflect well on Popi. I did make him sit on my lap to distract him, but he struggled and I was encouraged to "let him down" by the other guests who were laughing at his antics, and the more they laughed the more he was stimulated. I tried putting him in the backyard and closing the sliding glass door. He would just stand at the door and repeat high pitched yips and squeals to let him back in. Very annoying!
The children received wrapped Christmas gifts and Ricky was more than willing to help them unwrap them! The kids thought this was a lot of fun.
The party lasted for about 5 hours and in the end he started to run out of gas. We had a long 5 hour drive home and he slept the whole way home, dead exhausted.
I would like some feedback from you all about what I could have done differently. Leaving him at home or with day care was not an option for a number of reasons. He was really a hit at the party, and he didn't cause any real problems for anyone, but still.
Even as I started reading, I was thinking, "Boy, that sounds like stressy behavior". (especially since I know the "real" Ricky" is a well mannered delight) Big parties like that can be tough on dogs and small children, and lead to behavior you wouldn't normally see, even in the best socialized, most friendly dogs.
One of Kodi's first Christmases was similar only worse. Like your situation, Kodi had been specifically invited. The host had given both her dog and Kodi a present to open. Fine. But then, whenever Kodi showed interest in the dog's other toys (which were sprinkled liberally through the house) She would say, "Oh Kodi, that's one of XXX's FAVORITES! Play with your own toy!" And she or her daughters would take it away from him. Kodi isn't a particularly resource guard-y dog, but this, plus all the people, noise and excitement was just too much for him. He started to run away with this screechy growl whenever these women approached him to take away another toy. Finally, he ran under the dining room table, with a wild look in his eyes and wasn't going to let ANYONE near the last toy he'd picked up. (of course he didn't understand that one specific one was meant for him, or why strangers kept taking other ones away) I can't say for certain what would have happened if they had pushed him in that situation, but that's how people get bitten by perfectly nice dogs. I told everyone to leave him alone, and I went in there (we weren't eating yet anyway) and just sat on the floor talking to him until he calmed down and came to me. I traded a yummy treat for the toy and that was that. Fortunately, I HAD brought his crate, so I settled him into the crate in a back bedroom, with his new toy and a nice chew, and he spent the rest of the evening resting there except for a potty break or two. The hosts urged me to bring him back out, but I knew it wasn't in his best interests.
Now, if I have to take my dogs along to a large social gathering, I ALWAYS bring their crates. If the temperature is safe and it's a safe area, I actually leave them crated in the car. (My Variocage locks, so is completely safe, even if the car windows are wide open) If the temperature is too warm or too cold, I crate them in a quiet, out-of-the-way part of the house. If I am urged to bring them out to join the party, I don't cave. I just smile, thank the host politely, and say that they are better off out of all the hubbub of the party. If someone REALLY wants to meet them, I'll take them back into that quiet room and let them meet there for a few minutes, then back in the crates.
One thing that I've learned over 7 1/2 years of dog ownership is that we are responsible for advocating for what is best for our dogs. And that includes not letting other people pressure us into putting our dogs in an uncomfortable situation. The dangers of large gatherings are huge. Not only are they overstimulated and can get themselves in trouble that way, but people, especially kids, are always dropping edibles that could be very dangerous for our dogs. Some dogs will also ingest non-edible things in stressful situations, and you never know whether your dog will, until it has happened. What happens when a little kid drops something, the dog grabs it, and the little kid tries to grab it back? We all like to think our dog would never bite. But this is EXACTLY how small children get bitten in the face by sweet, gentle, family dogs. With our little dogs, we have the added danger of them falling off things, getting stepped on or getting picked up and then dropped by Uncle Dan, who "knows all about how to handle dogs".
It's just not worth it. I no longer care what other people think about my decisions for my dogs. They are my family members, they depend on me, and it is my job to keep them safe.