One of Julius’s
batshit crazy habits most endearing traits is his high-pitched terrier screech followed closely by his Chewbacca moan both of which he shares with us when he is overly excited. This excitement may stem from people, or people and dogs walking past the house, seeing people, seeing dogs, or just wanting to go outside in general. He also does it, though to a much lesser degree now when we go to class. Last week as he was announcing his arrival, Jan observed that it could possibly stem from some anxiety which really set me to thinking. Ray is my anxiety ridden dog that we coddle and have to work around special circumstances whereas Julius is my public dog who loves attention and affection, after all he’s my kissing booth bandit!
But as the hour progressed and we got into our groove, I had a moment of enlightenment. Julius probably doesn’t really have anxiety as much as I’m making him feel anxious. I wait to be nearly the last one out of class and the first one in so that we don’t encounter others on lax long leashes, I triple and quadruple gates in my house when a foster is with us, everyone eats with a minimum of six feet and one human between them and mostly any other dog within my eagle-eye view is a potential threat to me.
So we decided to try a hands-free leash so that my anxiety wouldn’t travel the length of the lead and translate to Julius. I have two and with all of those lovely D-rings I was in clip and carry heaven so after using it at the adoption event for Bryn, I loaded it with my gear for Julius’s pack walk.
So this morning I got Bryn up and down the street as fast as a scaredy hippo will go and then set off to the walk with Julius after promising Ray his turn afterwards. For whatever reason upon arriving at our destination, I was immediately crabby, another dog was wound up, Julius was keyed up and I could feel my exasperation building. As we started walking and I weighed my options I got more and more agitated as did Julius. “I should probably yank him around and cuss at him,” said the devil on my shoulder and the weakling on the same shoulder laughed and said, “Just turn around and go home, you can’t do this.” As I clutched my hand’s free leashes, I looked at Julius and said, “We are a team and we can do this, little man.” So I dropped my death grip on the leashes around myself and opened my arms.
Breathe in….get it ready.
Breathe out…let it go.
I consciously drew my arms up and in, then out and away…in….inhale…out….exhale…
And what happened? My teammate relaxed. We walked. He pulled less and stopped whining. We hit our stride and walked the walk.
We weren’t perfect, but we were working together as a team and at that moment in time that was all we needed.