Whew! It seems like whenever we take a blogging break, no matter how many potential posts I have rolling about in my head, it is just so hard to get back to the keyboard. This last week was no exception. We had a nice staycation doing lots of projects around the house, a bit of relaxing by the pool at the home we have yet to sell, topped off with a quick weekender trip to Detroit.
With so many anecdotes swirling around, I ended up with one that was very un-vacation-like. Ray’s leg is still giving him trouble occasionally, but when rested, I like to take him for short walks around the neighborhood which is always such a joy for him. In a stark contrast to what he was like as a puppy, Ray is a very good leash walker now which is such a joy for me as well.
In the back of my mind, I’m still yearning to get us ready for the CGC, although I admit that we don’t work on it super hard. I think we’ll know when it’s time and if it never happens, it never happens.
Walking in the warmer weather with so much abundant sunshine also brings a whole new set of issues: squirrels and other dogs. My walking with the SPCA dogs has trained me to become a qualified squirrel scout and since I like keeping my arm in its socket, I’ve learned to try to see squirrels way before any four legged companion I may be with. Let me tell you, it’s a very valuable skill to hone.
So I have a neighbor who walks her dog-with her retractable leash- quite regularly about the neighborhood. The neighbor is friendly and the dog not so much. Annie prefers to do her snooping from the end of the leash and otherwise mind her business as long as no one tries to pet her, which is perfectly acceptable. In the warm weather, Annie is often tethered while her owner is outside which makes Annie much more vocal when another dog goes by. Fortunately, I’ve seen the length of the tether often enough to judge that if we stay in the middle of the street no one should see the other as a threat and Ray can mind his business and work on his ignoring skills.
Until the other day when we approached and Annie began her usual charge but this time her owner gave chase and started calling Annie back-she was not tethered! So here I was, shielding my 85 pound dog from the 30 pounds of fur heading towards us. Luckily the owner got the dog way before reaching us, picked her up, and carried her away, saying, “Sorry, sorry” over and over. Ray, to his credit and my overwhelming pride, didn’t even bat an eyelash and we continued our walk with my heart pounding in my chest.
A day or so later, I was off somewhere and Kevin was doing some work in the backyard while Ray sunned himself on the deck and the neighbor and her dog took a detour from their walk to stand outside our fence and call out to Kevin. This of course, startled Ray who ran barking to the fence to give Miss Annie a taste of her own medicine, so to speak. Luckily the neighbor is pretty unflappable and recognized that she “stirred something up” and took her leave.
So, that leaves me wondering about the whole situation. Ray had grown up in a yard with a privacy fence, and until last October never really experienced seeing the world walk by. He was either out in the world or behind his fence, so I think this newfound perspective is a bit overwhelming to him sometimes, especially since he was standing at the fence one day as another neighbor started up his lawnmower. Ray hates lawnmowers to begin with and he was scared nearly out of his skin that day. Noise at the fence=scary things.
The other note from this event is that in the back of my mind, always lurks the fear that we will walk into a situation that we have no control over. I want to expose Ray to all of the sights and sounds of the neighborhood while practicing his good citizen skills but I need to always balance that with caution. If I avoid an approaching dog, it isn’t because I think my Big Scary Pit Bull is going to eat you and your dog but rather because I don’t know you and don’t necessarily trust that your dog handling skills will keep us out of danger. I guess pre-judging is a two way street.
Of leash dogs are my biggest pet peeve. I always try to gauge the moment too but I don’t want to feel trapped in our yard either. I always have a bag of treats with me and if (I should say when) we are charged by an off leasher, I throw treats in the grass for the dog to chase instead and then we take off running. As for you avoiding others with your ‘BSPB’…I do the exact same with my big dopey lab and my bobble head googly eyed bulldog! It’s good parenting!