The end of July and the beginning of August are definitely times for reflection around here. Two years ago a happy little “scruffian” bound into our lives and never left. Once we decide he was going to stay with us, we had such big plans for our Julius. He would be the ambassador that Ray didn’t want to be and he would open hearts and minds just with his sweet, open demeanor. Well on the way to that were some stumbling blocks like this and many more instances of the same ilk.
Julius started going to Dayplay mostly because whenever he’d see a dog he would go
apeshitcrazy nuts to play with them. We figured playing with a multitude of dogs on a weekly basis would cure that, but not so much. I guess the bonus was that in the Vet’s office we usually don’t have to wait because they like to bring him in to a room quickly. Go figure. Then we thought that Pack Walk would be a good way to get him used to being in a crowd of dogs without needing to be all up in everyone’s business. After a full year, I’d say that is beginning to happen.
Leader of the Pack
Over the course of the past year, I have been going round and round about Julius and his need to be in the lead. I don’t really believe that he wants to be “leader of the pack” as much as if he sees a dog he wants to be with that dog, so following just made him strain that much more. I was often told, he has to learn sometime that he can’t always be in front. On one had I agreed and yet on the other hand I thought why does he have to learn that? Was there a hidden agenda? What if he never learned that?
Well a funny thing happened to my ambassador/not ambassador dog. He became a Foster Step Father and his behavior and demeanor grew to accommodate his new status. Although the staff at day play always remark on how “appropriate” he is, it was wonderous to see him in action with not only the Sugar Babies, but also with Sugar herself. He was the self appointed guardian of all things and even kept a watchful eye on his “big brother” Ray to ensure proper behavior towards our guests. While I found this new Julius
mindblowing remarkable, I didn’t realize how much so until a recent pack walk.
We had invited the family of one of the puppy’s adopters. They have a Granddog who needed a bit of socialization and like with Ray, the early years, the more full of
assholery vinegar he acted, the less I was inclined to socialize him until it became a downward spiral.
So this handsome dog, Diesel, brought his family to pack walk and after the first five minutes there my heart went out to the family. I had been there so many times already with Julius. The jumping, the screaching, the all out shenanigans and the tears. I suggested that they lead and while I thought to fall in second with our usual walking partner, I realized that if Julius could see Dahey he might be ok, so we fell into third place and had a very successful walk. Diesel settled very quickly (faster than Juli ever did) and by the end of the walk, smiles were miles wide.
The following week, we fell into the same order and immediately all could see a vast difference.
While Julius isn’t done growing and maturing by a long shot, the difference in him is just astounding. Recently I took him to my daughter’s house so he could play mediator between Sugar and the new foster dog, Bitsy. Sugar wasn’t a huge fan yet and through some play and supervision the girls settled into a deeper appreciation of each other but the proudest moment came when the neighbor’s little dog stood on its deck and repeatedly yapped but got no reaction from Julius (or the girls.)
Tonight, after taking Ray for his rehab walk, I decided to take Juli around the neighborhood too. This is something I rarely do-walk Julius without Ray’s steady presence however it is impossible at the moment. While he isn’t even close to perfect on leash yet, we did walk past several people, kids and at least 4 barking dogs and Julius kept calm and quiet. I was bursting with pride and possibly strutting a bit. At one point, a neighbor apologized to us about his dog barking. I wanted to ask him to video us!
I don’t know. At two and a half, Julius just seems to have found his stride and because of that we are walking pretty proudly. Happy Gotcha week to my Ambassador.