How do you know when your teaching, training, and/or work has paid off with your dogs? How do you know when there is an understanding of a concept, or a behavior, important to the success of your team? How do you know when you and your dog have a mutual understanding, a relationship, a healthy functioning relationship?
This afternoon, when all seemed fairly quiet in the neighborhood, I decided to take the two Grande Dames for a walk. All three of us needed some fresh air, our legs stretched, and a bit of time together. Harnesses on, leashes clipped, poop bags in pocket, little baggy of left over turkey, coat, glasses, gloves, and ready to go!
I use to walk them together when they were much younger, but in recent years, I usually take one at a time, or one out with one of our male dogs. You see Franny and Ocean aren’t a good combination anymore, not in the past eight years anyway. They have had enough bad experiences while out on walks to last a life time. So they formed an alliance in a way, an alliance in the sense of, ‘take no crap!’ It’s like walking Dyna & Mite. Individually great, but together they can be fairly explosive, especially in an unstable environment, like in a neighborhood with off leash dogs. They really don’t want to engage with other dogs when out on a walk with me, and truly they just want to enjoy their time.
So off we went, it’s so special to walk with my girls, and I feel that every time I leave the house with them now. Franny has slowed way down, Ocean still has a great deal of pep in her walk. But they both enjoy sniffing and marking, and that we did!
Our walk was uneventful and relaxing the mile out from our house. Cool air, a bit of snow and ice on the ground, lots to smell. However, on the mile back things were a bit dodgy. I try to always take the path of least resistance. The girls, especially at their ages, don’t need any explosions, or the stress that comes with them. So we try to avoid conflicts. I will detour, wait, and sometimes even throw food at an on coming dog to keep them away from my girls.
So my original questions about “how do you know…?” Well, on our way home, the girls and I spotted two dogs behind a wood slat fence starting to fence run on our approach, and set up on us. Both girls stopped and looked right up at me! You could not wipe the smile off of my face. “Thank you” was the first thing that came out of my mouth, and then a piece of turkey for both girls. We crossed the street and kept walking, without conflict. When we crossed the street, a young black lab came roaring down it’s back deck stairs, into a yard, and right up to the fence we were just passing, and started to off load verbally on us. It caught us all off guard. Franny jumped sideways and went piloerect (and that was it which shocked me), Ocean gave that young dog a hard stare and low growl (and that was it which surprised me), then they both looked at me, “You two are freaking awesome today, thank you!”, a small piece of turkey and off we went, crossed back to the other side of the street once more.
I was so proud of my girls, and grateful for an almost conflict free walk. They had a lot of choices with the situations they were put in today. And it could have gone a totally different way. They have, enough times, made other dogs regret their choices for surprising them, again, when they are together it can be explosive.
We came home relaxed, happy, and filled with fresh air. These Grande Dames mean the world to me! May our walks continue …