As I sit here and ponder how to start this post, I realize that I’m happy and thankful for several things in the blog and dog world. On Sunday Juli and I had our worst pack walk to date. Actually, Julius always has a superfantasticwonderfulgreat time no matter what he is doing. I, however, endured a self-imposed solo walk full of personal judgement. Fortunately, both the Erie-sisti-Bulls and Two Pitties in the City touched on a bit of what I was enduring in my head, which makes it easier for me to put into words what I was feeling.
I have a hard time thinking about Julius being “reactive” because that word has such a negative connotation, but the fact is he reacts whenever he sees, hears, or smells a dog. The fact that he is super friendly and only wants to meet and greet doesn’t alleviate the fact that he is screeching and pulling.
Our pack walking group is founded on a no judgement principle and everyone has been very supportive of Julius’ energy. Everyone but the gremlin who lives in my brain. We were a couple of minutes late which made me panic so when we arrived and the pack took off, I felt too embarrassed to assert myself. Julius needs to be at the front of the pack near a friendly dog, but we headed up the rear. Because we had such good success earlier in the week with a weighted backpack, I put that on him with his martingale collar. When he began straining and huffing, I felt at a loss, so as we kept stopping and redirecting, the pack pulled further and further away. They offered to wait, but while consumed in my embarrassment I waved them on then fostered a good lump of self-pity for being left behind.
Fortunately for me and my feelings of inadequacy, another member doubled back to retrieve a lost item and Julius and I continued on with them in a much more successful manner. This was a big learning for me. Our group is new and we are still feeling our way, so my take away is that we’ve all come together with a common goal: to walk and socialize our dogs in a non judgmental setting. If I -or anyone else- feels they need some kind of help or support or if we just have a simple request, we need to speak up. For me the danger in not continuing was great. After a few yards I wanted to hang it up for the week and go home. Stubbornness and pride won out and in the end, Julius won too. We completed our walk, and later that morning he got to shine in what he does best: dog interactions.