After a few days of threatening rain and actually deluge rain storms we actually had a pleasant, albeit warm, but none-the-less… pleasant sort of day. I went to pick my daughter up from work and found out she was scheduled to work an additional set of hours so I returned home for about an hour and a half. The timing worked out to where I would leave 30 minutes before the dogs evening feed time so I had a hair-brained scheme of packing up all the pooches; that would be: 2 old Aussies, Ty (11) and Ronen (10) and two younger dogs; Sherlock, my daughter’s 10 month old Blue Lacy/Catahoula cross and Jasmine, our newest pack member, a purebred 3 month old Catahoula.
This was a maiden voyage, up to this point I had taken the dogs out SEPARATELY never all together in the same vehicle, so this would be a first for everyone… including me. Well it isn’t exactly my first rodeo, I’ve been working with dogs avidly since I was 13. For the last 5 years we have had the pleasure of having a rough and ready group of Aussies plus one Pomeranian that were all basically trained to leashes, on and off lead, voice commands, etc. We have known what to expect all these years out of this bunch. With that said, I packed a small bag with water for the dogs and other miscellaneous items you might need when walking dogs at a park. Plastic bags for poop (blech, I know but it is necessary) included. I loaded the new crew in the truck and put everyone in their places, no crates were used, although I’m realizing that was probably a mistake on my part, next time, I think I will use the crates if possible. I put Ronen on the back driver’s seat and on the clear opposite side of the bench I put wily Sherlock and tethered them to their spots so they would not bounce about the truck. I put Ty in the front seat and placed little Jasmine next to him. I knew he would not LOVE this idea but with me there he would tolerate her infringing on his space bubble. I put Jasmine next to Ty so that she would feel secure enough to not try to jump on me or in the back seat with the boys and cause chaos. So off we went. I had to get out and get the gate, it was already open so I drove through and had to get out to close it. All the dogs got sad and were staring at me out the windows except Sherlock who was attempting to find out if he could climb out and follow me. He could not so he just made a valiant attempt. I climbed back into the driver’s seat and headed down the road. With all the chaos of getting the dogs out to the truck and loaded up I was now painfully aware that in all the commotion I had forgotten to grab my phone. I would not turn back for it now, it would be too much to get out again and open and close the gate again plus leaving all the dogs in the truck would not go over well while I ran in to grab my phone. So I would have to go without. I drove down the road and to my daughter’s place of employment. The Aussies rode like they always do, like champs. They love car rides! Jasmine did well with the arrangement but Ty got wiggly when we were stopping and going so to get a better seat he squished Jasmine and she squished up on the center console next to me. I allowed her to stay there as she seemed to like it, until she decided she needed to lick my ear and climb in my lap. Then I set her back in the seat next to Ty. Sherlock was looking out all his slightly open windows and wiping nose prints on all the glass surfaces near him, then he would get cheeky and sniff Ronen. Ronen did not like this and tried to ignore Sherlock by sticking his head over on my shoulder closest to the window. Better than taking matters into his own paws and starting a fight. So then we arrived at my daughter’s work place. I did not have my phone so I put the truck in park right by the door, left my hazards on and ran in to let her know I was indeed just outside the doors. I went back to the truck and waited. Some people were trying to load their vehicle and I was in the way so I drove around the parking lot and circled back to where I was not blocking anyone’s way. My daughter came out and we shuffled dogs around so she could get in her seat and seat belted, then we went to a nearby park. We pulled in and parked and carefully extracted each dog from the truck, one by one. We got each one secured and organized walking arrangements. My daughter would take the older, well-trained dogs. I would get the honor of walking the wild children, Sherlock Puppy and Jasmine Puppy. Joy! I knew that I was getting myself into this mess and I figured it would be worth it in the end so we moved forward with our plan. We got all the dogs organized and I put the bag with dog water on my shoulder and we headed to the trail entrance and were greeted by a sign that said, “Lawn Fertilizer has been placed on the grass, remove this sign after 48 hours has been completed.” I was like…. “Oh great, should we go home? It has already been pretty eventful I think the dogs would be tuckered just from what we had already accomplished.” My daughter said, “no, we are here, let’s go on the opposite trail that has very little grass that goes by the river.” I liked that idea, so off we went. This walk would be slightly shorter anyway than what I had originally planned. We headed down the path, Sherlock did really well. I got him walking nicely in a good rhythm. He heeled well, all the training we had done up to this point concerning heeling had obviously paid off. My daughter was having a good time with the Aussie boys, too. They were excited and tugging a little, but she did some work with them and they also settled in for the most part until little Jasmine, who is too little and young yet for proper heeling lessons went dog bowling. She would run and lick my leg, then run to chomp my daughter’s leg, then chomp-chomp at both Ty and Ronen, then she would turn and charge at Sherlock and chomp-chomp at him, then repeat… over and over and over. It was pretty funny, and Sherlock ignored her, but Ty and Ronen were not liking her diving into them so they were dodging her advances causing her to really chase into them. This caused more drama for my daughter so I reeled in the riley puppy and we decided to walk in a parallel line, so she could not easily dive into the Aussies. It sort of worked until we passed another fellow walker, with a small dog in tow. We went into single file and passed them. Then we went back into parallel formation. All was going well and then I saw a small path down a forest trail that led to the river bank. The temptation was too great, I said, “Should we go down to the water?” My daughter said, “sure.” So off we went down the forest trail. The previous weekend I had an injured knee that is doing much better now, but still a little tingy at times so I made my way as cautiously as I could with a young dog and a really young puppy flopping at the end of my lead. We finally made it to the river bank, unscathed. I really wanted to wade into the water, very badly. Before you knew it I gave into to better reason and had my shoes and socks OFF and I was wading in right along with my Aussies, they love water. Back home in Texas we used to go on “pond walks” they loved fetching sticks and swimming so they were “in” for sure. Jasmine bounded right in, she loved it so much and was zooming through the river bank and getting everyone splashed whether they liked it or not. Sherlock on the other hand…well out of all the dogs, he is the one that is actually built for swimming. He even has webbed toes to boot. Does he like water? NO, he absolutely despises it, we wondered how he would do. Well when I waded in I was surprised that he actually decided on his own to follow me into the water. At this point only I was in the water and there is a “6-ft leash rule” in the park so I was holding on to Sherlock’s leash and 2 Aussies, then Jasmine saw me in the water and decided she wanted to come stand with me. When she got to me she was swimming around me because the water was high for her. She found out I was standing on a smallish flat rock and she tucked her little body over my feet and glued herself to my legs, but then found it was too cold and now, being the tiny puppy that she was… she was tired, hungry and sleepy all at the same time and wanted me to pick her up and make her feel better. So now my daughter was no longer immune to the temptation of wading into the river and she was now standing calf deep with jeans rolled up and shoes on the river bank. I headed back to shore with the now cold, very wet puppy and I am holding FOUR leashes!! I thought I had them good but was thinking that I needed to get my shoes on. In the new chaotic situation that formed I dropped one of my leashes in the spaghetti leash mess I had in my hands :O . If it had been Ty or Ronen it would have been no sweat. They are voice trained and would stay with me anyhow, the leash is just because of the rule. In fact, if it weren’t for the rule, they would have been off leash, no contest. If it had been Jasmine it also would have been fine because you see, she is deaf, and so she relies on us to understand her world. She is bold and brave but attentive to watch us because she does not want to lose track of us. Well it wasn’t either of those 3 dogs, nope, it was the worst of all dogs this could have happened to… it was our teenage boy dog, whose theme song is “Thug Life” dog…. Sherlock.
Yep, at first he walked off and then he realized he was really “loose” and then he RAN off!! He’s like, “I’m free I’m free.” Granted he still was dragging a leash, a very nice leash, I mean a very, very nice leather leash that brand new in store for a NYLON one they cost easily $40, but this one is not nylon it is LEATHER!! So he is running up the forest trail and my daughter went up to catch him. It is easy to panic and RUN after a loose dog, but sometimes the best thing to do is follow quietly, …sometimes. Well Sherlock got to the top of the path and my daughter got up there. I was helpless and could not follow because I was down at the water’s edge with my shoes still off (oh my daughter’s shoes were also off at this point because we were just getting ready to put them back on) and holding 3 dogs. Plus my bag was on the ground and there was NO way I was going to be able to get myself and everything up the hill, besides that I did not want Sherlock to run further away thinking we were pursuing him. He was NOT scared, he was brazen and bold about his escape, I assure you! So from the river bank I coached my frustrated daughter on how to catch her brazen beast of a puppy. I hollered up to her, “RUN AWAY FROM HIM!” What this does is confuses the dog who is trying to escape into a predator/prey response. My daughter running away from him made him think, “Oh I need to chase her.” It worked!! So he ran back toward her but ran past her! So again from the river bank I yelled, “NOW RUN AGAIN THE OTHER WAY!” So she did, and again he could not resist and he chased after her, but ran past her again. This happened two additional times. I stood at the river bank, helpless to help them other than my coaching and I prayed, “Abba please allow us to catch this SILLY puppy. Please don’t let him get hurt, or hurt anyone else as he is running around.” Puppies can make bad decisions sometimes in their exuberance, and he at 10 months old does not really look like a puppy to the average person. Thankfully there was no one else in the immediate area during our fiasco. So now the thought popped in my head, I did not feed the dogs before I left, it was ‘almost’ feed time but I decided I would feed when we arrived home. I knew that all the dogs would be hungry and in my mind, dinner was their reward. I called to Sherlock and said, “SHERLOCK DO YOU WANT TO EAT?” He immediately turned and ran down to me at the river!! Of course, he was hungry!! Well I still could not grab him since I was still standing there with 3 dogs, our only hope at this point was my daughter who was cautiously making her way down the path. Her feet hurt from running on the rocks, and she still had blisters from this past weekend’s cow show. I told her not to make a big deal about it but come down and collect him. He sensed the “trap” and realized I did not have food so he bolted back up the path towards my daughter hoping to dive past her and back up to the forest trail where they were doing their “chase” game. As he was running past her she dove down and was able to snatch his leash!! Hooray!!! Thank you Abba. Tears of relief and joy emerged, she was a mixture of angry and hurt, too, that he would choose to not listen.
Take away: One thing I usually emphasize with my dogs is an off leash recall. I have taught all my dogs this important tool. It has saved them from impending danger (blog posts for another time I’m sure). Sherlock has obviously not received the concept entirely yet. He doesn’t see the importance, nor does he care. He is a male, teenage dog with an attitude problem. We have to convince him that we are worthy of his loyalty and that he should listen and follow us no matter if he “wants” to do something different. It reminds me of a teaching I had heard not long ago from Brad Scott talking about God’s relationship with us. Brad Scott said this phrase: Rules without Relationship equals rebellion. This can totally apply to Sherlock. He knows what we expect of him, he knows the rules, he knows the right thing to do, and it isn’t that he has not been taught. We are waiting for that “switch” to go off in his brain that he makes the conscience decision to CHOOSE to Listen and Obey. This is the Shema in Hebrew, Shema means “listen AND obey.” What a great lesson we got today. I hope Sherlock learned a thing or two, probably only that he should have ducked instead of dodged (haha) but here’s to hoping that he will one day be a very good and obedient dog, too. Just like all his predecessors that have graced the halls of our household over the years.
Until next time:
Yah bless …