Sunday, November 13, 2011

A Walk in the Park

Idiom: An undertaking that is easy is "a walk in the park". The opposite is also true - "no walk in the park".

Some days, managing a dog like Zainey is no walk in the park.
Some days, being Zainey is no walk in the park. Everyone and everything is a possible threat and you must be on alert a good part of your day. You are taught not to 'go-off' at the dog on the sidewalk that is pulling at the end of his leash to greet you (when you are sure that what he really wants is to eat you). People come to your house and ring the doorbell under the guise of delivering packages (when you are sure that what they really want is to maul your family and steal your food) and you are told that one woof is sufficient and that you should then go to your safety zone (crate). In class, you are instructed multiple times that you must first sit and wait when all you really want to do is run the darn course and then you have to walk across the teeter board before you can have the yummy piece of chicken!

On top of all the things that present an almost daily training and/or teaching opportunity, there are also these top 10 worries to look out for (in no particular order) ...
  1. Fireworks, thunderstorms, and other booming sounds
  2. The smell of the BBQ (an association made with 4th of July fireworks)
  3. Cozy fires in the fireplace (not associated with the 4th of July as this issue developed before the other)
  4. The smell of other peoples fires when out on a neighborhood walk
  5. People that want to look directly at you and maybe even bend toward you 
  6. Aluminum foil coming off the roll
  7. Cheers and jeers on football Sunday
  8. Walking under an overpass
  9. The sound of ocean waves hitting the shore (that's a new one)
  10. Metal grates on sidewalks
....Every day it's something!

Not today. Today Zainey and I took a day off from everything and took a walk in the park where we do no training and no requests are made of her. The 6' leash goes away and the extendi-leash comes out. There are mounds and mounds of bushy grasses to run through, rabbits to startle, and stinky things to sniff and/or roll in. Heeling, sitting, and waiting is not required. The direction we travel is determined only by a dog's nose and when we see an obnoxious kid or an overexcited dog that would make for a great exposure and training opportunity, we take another path instead.
Training, staying on top of her issues so they don't get on top of us, and low level exposure to 'scary' things is crucial to Zainey's confidence building and comfort in life, but so are days like today when she can practice the art of just being a dog...

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