Monday, November 10, 2008

A Story and a Question

A rather long story... I put this on my Facebook page last week but you get the extra question at the end.

Ellie and Nyah are my dogs. They are 3 1/2 years old, now. Nyah's usually up for an adventure and rarely refuses a walk. Ellie's been more reluctant to walk for the past few months. Why? She's not talking. If the girls take her down the sidewalk or in the park, she's fine. If she's burned out on walking in the cemetery, we even stopped walking in the cemetery for now. Ellie's always been more fearful. She used to skirt blowing plastic bags, garbage cans that randomly appeared on a walk, a paper blowing in the wind. We keep conquoring one fear after another but it seems there's always one more. Other times she's braver than Nyah. Go figure.

I took Nyah to the woods. We like the woods. I thought Ellie would be excited to go when she smelled Nyah had gone before her, but no. Thinking it’s still down time at the park at 4:00 (not many dogs) I say, we’re walking. We go out the side door instead of the front door so she comes. Does Ellie have me well trained, or not? We walk through the park.

Besides the fact that she's pulling & not paying attention she's not too afraid. So because she's really not paying good attention to me (on most days she's been doing really well) we detour around kids, people sitting where I wanted to walk, crazies at the Garden Center, teens smoking I don’t want to know, a boy flinging his rope around on one side of the street, a dog watching his kids on the other side. Because of all the detours we need to pass by the fire station - lesser of all evils. Right.

A lady rolls her trash can down the driveway. Ellie's good. We let a bike go by. Ellie’s being good. Ellie and I both think the fire station is evil, by the way. And the firemen are very nice people. She’s even being real good walking by the fire station - go figure. The fire alarm hasn't gone off more than once in 3+ year when we've walked by. But if anything big and scary is going to roll down the street it always seems to happen in front of the fire station. Snow plow, bus, rowdy firemen, bus, street cleaner, ambulance, noisy car, all of the above . . .

From far away I hear a siren. It comes to the corner but turns. Ellie's ok. While I’m being happy about that an ambulance comes up behind us, sirens blaring and some other random fire truck from out of no where comes by the other way. I stand close and cover her and she stays put. She doesn’t bolt for the street. When it's over she looks quite pleased with herself.

We keep walking down the sidewalk and turn the corner towards my house. All the traffic is bumper to bumper for some reason. We walk past the leaf blower. She does good. A bike is coming down the sidewalk. The bike girl rides on the street. I think she’s gone but there she is coming towards us on the sidewalk again. The bike goes past, Ellie's still good. By now I'm a wreck but I'm excited. The girl apologizes. Just as I take a deep breath I see the dog across the street - not just a dog but a big Malamute/Husky type dog walking with two people. The people see us, too. A good dog, but no matter, my dogs aren't predictable around other dogs, so rookie that I am, I avoid them. We walk in the cemetery to avoid dogs. I pretend not to see them and start jogging and Ellie stays with me. She doesn't bark or freeze or lunge after the dog. Pretty amazing...

Two police cars go by with lights, no sirens. Nice of them.

I breathe. I sit her. All the cars on the street have been at a standstill through most of this. Odd. I give her a treat. Some guy yells out of his car, "Good dog!" I hope it wasn't our trainer.

So THEN I get near my house and there’s a police car flashing at the corner. We climb the hill into the yard (a way we never go) to avoid the police car and Ellie's good with that. There was some accident just past the end of my driveway- about 3 police cars, a fire truck…. No one I know. Praise God.

Someone needs to desensitize ME to all these things and pops treats in my mouth. No treats. That won’t work. Don't like treats. I know! Let us off leash. Get us out of here!!! The best reward ever!

Why did I put this on Emerging Kids? You're parents and teachers and you run into this next question all the time. I want to know - for all the really good things that happened on this walk, why is it that I will only remember the bad stuff? If you go to My Smart Puppy it says "your dog can change but you have to change first." I think it applies to lots of things - us big people and our kids, too.

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