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Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Heeling

Yesterday, after an hour and a half with the physical therapist who stretched and worked on my foot with great valiance and aplomb, I decided to take the dogs for a walk. A gray day it was, one of my favorite weathers. How very happy they were to be up and out. We went up to the reservation where they can walk without leashes. They're very good about sticking with me--even Tuffy, my schipperke, a breed notorious for not being able to learn to walk off a leash without running away. Tuffy is my second schipperke--the other one, my beautiful Edie, was just as easy, and only separated from me twice, when she was old and confused. (I learned that a panicked dog is apt to stop still at the sound of your voice and wait for you to find her rather than coming as usual. Both times were in the snow--unhappy afternoons.)
Dogs love to do as you ask, as long as you ask for reasonable behaviors and communicate them clearly. Off the leash walking is easy once they are bonded. There's no rush to do it, either. It comes, and then it's reliable. I keep my dogs on leash for nine months just to be sure.

When Jesse, my mini dachsund, went to puppy class, she was roughed up by a black lab and has hated them ever since. Now every time she sees one she immediately looks around for Tuffy, who she counts on to protect her.  Tuffy spots the lab (only the black, the others are okay) and turns sideways to it and lifts his lip. The lab drops its head and slinks by. Lab puppies don't know better and are apt to bound up anyway. Then Tuffy growls fiercely--it's pretty scary. No matter that he's shorter. He's got love on his side, and riteous anger. He prevails.

Tuffy, his lip curled, tells off a perfectly sweet puppy.
Jesse walks so nearby at my heels I often stop and cry out for her, panicked that she has run off. But there she is, too close to see. Today I could barely make it around the block, but she stuck by me while Tuffy went ahead, clearing the way.







2 comments:

  1. Ah dogs, don't you love them. Fierce and protective, often better than humans when it counts.

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