Franny, my forever teacher.
Since I have four dogs, I tend to walk them singly or in pairs. I want to enjoy my walks as much as my dogs, so I choose to do multiple walks, and take a bit longer to do so. And I like when we can all be successful.
All four together, and we are nothing more than a moving circus, an Italian circus on caffeine to be more specific! And it gets even crazier should an off leash dog come into our space, which hasn’t happened in awhile. I don’t want to put my dogs into that position so I opt for the path of least resistance.
This past week I have been pairing Story with Franny for one of the walks. I wasn’t sure if it would be a good pairing at first.
Story is like walking a steam train. Franny is aging quickly, and really slowing down.
Story could go 10 miles with little to no effort, Franny prefers something just under a mile.
Story likes to visit with other dogs, do some fancy prancing, or work a bit. He likes an interactive walk. Franny likes to smell every single bush and tree, mark every single bush and tree, and ignore everything else in life. She for sure does not want to visit with other dogs.
Story considers any dog barking at him a potential friend, or sex partner at the very least. He is super social and is not offended easily. Franny knows she moves slower now, she knows she is vulnerable and could not get away if she needed too, and jumps when a dog barks, even from behind a fence. It’s been causing her some stress. She does not want to be in a big dog environment at all.
BUT, what I have been observing is so cool. Story has become Franny’s barometer for safety. If a dog barks, even in the distance, Franny will look over at Story. If Story is unfazed, which is the case 99% of the time, she keeps her Grandma trot going. Anything that causes her concern in her environment and she will look to Story for information. Her walks this past week have been so stress free and lovely. Story has leveled the playing field for her, and she can do her sniffing and marking with little to no concern now.
AND, Story now slows down for her, and will only pick up the pace if she starts to drag too much. He is pacing her all on his own. What I am observing is Story sensing that his walk with Franny has a different purpose than when I walk him by himself. He is so attentive to her, and patient.
So I started to really observe my other walks. What are my dogs barometer for safety.
$eeker rely’s on a walk having some work, that is his barometer for safety. A leash walk around the neighborhood does nothing for him other than cause stress because there is no focus. But if I grab the small video camera, he knows we will stop someplace and do some fancy prancing, or tricks, or creative heeling, etc.
He is focused, engaged with me, and feels safe when our walks have a goal in mind. He totally knows what a video camera is for! While he loves being paired with Ocean, she is his muse after all, she does not give him any information on his safety.
$eeker and Story do well being paired together, but it’s like walking with two frat boyz! You kind of have to be up for that kind of walk.
Ocean, my beautiful Ocean. Her barometer for safety is me. When we are out and about, she looks to me for information. When she is uncertain, I simple think in my mind, thank you for telling me, I will take care of it. And I do what ever is appropriate for that particular situation. Cross the street, turn around, redirect her, or throw a hot dog at an off leash dog so we can continue to walk without being harassed. She can trust me, I am her barometer.
Nancy, who has enjoyed her walks this week!
16 Comments Add yours
I totally have seen that happen for me with Louie and Teddy or Sterling (you have too) . Louie relies on their signals to determine if he should bolt or not. Sometimes you just never know what a new pairing will bring! 🙂 Great post once again. You rock.
Louie would be the perfect example of this, and we should get him on film. I remember last summer, the only reason he did anything besides bolt was because of Teddy and Sterling being ‘OK’ with what we were working on. Besides Louie being so photogenic, he could be a great teacher to so many who own fearful dogs.
Well maybe I’ll haul him along when we come see you in a few weeks.
Beautiful love story, nancy. love, Mom
Mom it is a love story, I never thought of that when I wrote it. But it is all about love…
I have noticed that for quite a while w/KC & Eli. KC is almost completely deaf now, (doesn’t even hear the popcorn popper, so you KNOW it’s real) and orients on Eli on our walks. When they are off leash, she, like Franny has to thoroughly sniff everything, and then pee on it. I resign myself to a KC walk, not my walk. When dogs approach her, Eli will get in between–it’s quite nice to observe this, which I have for years. KC never really liked other dogs and will growl at them when they get in her face. Eli deflects this. She follows him, or is right at me heels.
oh Nancy, you made me cry. Eli has become everything and more. And now that he is KC’s ears, and protector, well tears…
Whenever I read your posts I seem to take more notice of my pets. They are my companions and I see them more as that than as a house pet. My dog, Loki, definitely reads me while out on walks as to how he should respond to a situation. Again, never really thought about it before but I feel much better being in tune with him than before. Thanks Nancy!
Steve, That is the beauty of Nancy, she makes us all notice things about our pets we may not have noticed before. She is truly a gift.
your welcome, it is what I love about animals, being with them and observing them. You never got to see all of my animals growing up, because we were always camping with your family, but there were a lot, and they taught me a great deal.
What a beautiful observation. I am becoming a better observer of Durango…..I find I like our relationship so much more because of it. Go figure. I especially like your detail about Franny and Story – just beautiful.
they are beautiful together… Hopefully I will get to meet Durango some day…
Nancy, you are always making me think and observe just a little more…thank you 🙂 Holly takes too many ques from Casey…if Casey gives it a look, Holly stares hard at it…if Casey gives a tiny woof, Holly barks wildly. They are seperated a lot these days (walks and car rides mostly) mostly for my sanity. Everything Holly does or feels is intensified x10 when Casey is doing it too. It’s like she forgets that I exist and she can only pay attention to Casey not me, and certainly not both of us at once.
that is why I rarely walk Ocean and Franny together. Instead of giving comfort to one another while on a walk, or at least some level of information on safety, they FEED off of each others concerns, and it pretty much goes to hell in a hand basket!
I love that phrase…barometer for safety. To be that in tuned makes me that much more grateful for our animals