Let’s face it, I’m a picky dog. I generally TOLERATE all other dogs, LIKE a pretty good amount, but I only LOVE a select few (especially when they are living at MY house). So you can imagine my surprise that after only 4 days, I was well on my way to loving a new dog that my parents brought home. And no, it’s not my foster bro Sarge, I am still in the tolerate phase with him. My new buddy’s name is Zeus.
Last week, Mom picked me up from Camp and I took a snooze on the car ride home, just like I usually do. But when we got home, there was a strange black dog on the deck with Dad. Of course, I had to let him know that I did not approve of him being there with my patented half growl, half bark. All I could think was, ‘They brought home ANOTHER dog?!’ Mom told me to relax, he is jut visiting for a few days, and put on my harness so we could take a walk. The black dog and Dad came with us. When we walked next to each other and I got a whiff of him, I realized he wasn’t half bad. Dad said his name was Zeus and that I had to be nice to him because he is Dad’s boss’ dog. (Haven’t I heard that one before?).
Zeus seems like a big name for a small-ish dog, with a cat like, fluffy tail, but who am I to judge? Besides the fact that he stopped to pee on EVERYTHING (ghawd, why do boys feel the need to do that?), I enjoyed our walk very much. Mom and Dad let us play in the back yard too. He didn’t seem all that impressed with my play-bows and boxer moves, but he got with the program and at least let me chase him for a bit.
He seemed a little scared in the house, maybe it was because he had never met us all before. Sargent picked on him a little and tried to hump him too, but Mom and Dad protected poor Zeus just like they do for me. I tried to tell him to just stay clear or the big lug, which he did, when he stole my spot on the couch. But Sargent wanted to sleep next to him, so they both shared my spot.
Eventually he got the hang of dealing with ol’ Sarge and they napped together quite a bit.
Now let me just tell you, I like Zeus more than the average dog that Mom and Dad bring home, but with two ‘others’ in the house it felt a bit crowded. I tried to find a spot on the couch, but decided I needed my own space and slept on my bed. I stayed in the living room so I could keep an eye on everyone, but man, am I glad none of them tried to snuggle with me.
On Saturday Mom and Dad brought me and Zeus for a long walk on one of my favorite trails. Sargent got his own walk then stayed home because he’s too old and can’t keep up with us young-ins. For the first half of the walk Zeus just peed on everything and I stayed close to Mom and Dad. Then, I decided enough was enough and it was play time. We discovered a stream and found out it was fun to run through the mud and jump from bank to bank. When we got to the part where there is a big field, I showed Zeus my track star like speed. He couldn’t keep up, so I slowed down for him a little so he would still play. We were so tired when we got home.
While Zeus was at our house he slept all alone on the couch in the living room at bed time. Dad is still sleeping downstairs with Sargent, so I had the bed all to myself (oh, and Mom). But, Zeus was lonely so he wanted to come up on the bed too. I was ok with it, which doesn’t happen very often, so Mom let him come up and we all snuggled before it was time to get up. Before he left to go home to his family, I even let his snuggle with me…just a little.
I liked Zeus a lot, but am glad we are back to only having two dogs in the house. Two is still one too many. I do hope that Zeus can come back and play again soon, but only on a temporary basis!
I did it. I walked both dogs all by myself. It might not seem like a big deal, but it has been a struggle for the past six weeks and we’ve finally made progress. I can’t take full credit for it however, I have to say that the gentle leader has been a life saver when it comes to walking Laynie. One of the blogs I follow, That Touch of Pit, recently wrote about the benefits of the gentle leader. When we first got her we realized she probably had never been walked on leash before. Even if she had, she had absolutely no clue what is meant to have a loose leash. And man, is she strong. After the first couple of walks with her my arms, shoulders and back were sore. It was clear to us that we had to try something different.
With Nola, it was easy. She was a puppy learning from scratch and she was super food motivated. Put a piece of hotdog in front of her face and she will do whatever you ask. Laynie could care less if you were holding a Filet Mignon in front of her. She is going to pull you down the street if that is where she wants to go. The fist thing we tried with Laynie was a chain martingale. It gave us more control, but it never stayed in place and I always felt like I was hurting her. Then we tried an easy walk harness. We used this with Nola and it was a great tool.
When the trainer we worked with suggested a gentle leader we were desperate and willing to try anything. Luckily I had one that a friend had given me for Nola that we never ended up using because of the accident. Laynie easily accepted us putting it on (it helped that we had some chicken and were in a low distraction area so she actually ate the treats), and our first walk using it was like we had just gotten a new dog. When she would usually cry and whine and obsess about every squirrel, cat or dog that we passed, with the gentle leader she barely seemed to care. We have more control over her head when we walk so she is not able to use her full body weight to pull. She realizes it’s uncomfortable to jerk her head around to see the squirrel or birds, so she just doesn’t. Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t immediate, we’ve still had bad days where she spends most of the walk rubbing on the ground trying to get it off, but for the most part it has been an invaluable tool.
Walking two well behaved dogs with one hand made me feel so great. Here I am, a 5’3″ woman, walking two pit-bull type (who are inherently dangerous according to the Maryland Courts, but don’t get me started on that ridiculousness) all by myself. It was awesome. And now instead of dreading the walks alone with Laynie, I look forward to the time we spend together walking. I am telling her ‘good girl’ much more than ‘leave it’ and ‘this way’ and ‘too much’ and ‘hip’ like I used to. It also helps that she is so smart and just wants to please her people.
We still have a lot more work to do on her reactivity while on leash. We are taking advice from another one of my favorite blogs, Running with Squirrels because their
foster forever (yay, congrats!) dog McMuffin has some of the same issues. But overall, walking is less stressful and much more enjoyable for everyone in the family!