Thursday, February 17, 2011

Concrete Pig and Other Walking Adventures

This has felt like quite a long week. I don’t know if it’s because the weather has been so much like spring and I’m feeling more trapped indoors than usual or it has, in fact, been a long week.

Still it’s Friday tomorrow and that means that the reset button will be pushed and work won’t begin again for two days. There are far worse things in life than a weekend.

So far, my weekend is wide open. It’s supposed to be beautiful on Saturday and rainy on Sunday. Of course, today’s forecast was for it to be near 70 degrees and sunny when, in actually, the thermometer is lurking right around the 58 degree mark and it’s gloomy and rainy looking out there.

I’m hoping it doesn’t rain. It’s been nice to be able to walk the pups around the neighbourhood each night when I get home from work. For a while, we seem to have been the lone walkers and though we might run into the odd neighbour or squirrel, there haven’t been many dogs and their owners walking. Last night, that changed. The weather was lovely so it must have seemed like a good walking opportunity for everyone else in the neighbourhood. Thus our normally peaceful soujourn around the ‘hood turned into a case of “dodge the other dogs.”

With Rory, that’s easy. She’s a peaceful little soul, happy to sniff the path on which we walk, wag her tail at squirrels and to check and make sure I’m still behind her at certain intervals. Sookie, it’s not so easy. Sookie has become far more worried about other dogs over the winter. Before, she used to get a little worried as we passed other dogs on leashes. Now, she gets very upset and barks and tries to chase them.

It’s a little stressful as a dog owner. I know the correct response is not to yank her back on the leash but, instead, condition her to look at me instead of at the other dogs. However, we’re at the beginning of that training so at the moment, she’s going a little ballistic.

I’m noticing that a lot of dog owners and their canines are crossing the street before they pass us so we don’t have an up-close-and-personal growling and lunging encounter. I choose not to take this personally because I’m noticing that the other dogs are going just as crazy as Sookie when they see not only my girls but any other dogs in the neighbourhood. This does not even include the dogs that are home as we walk by.

My neighbourhood can only be described as “dog friendly.” For every three houses, there seems to be at least one dog. We have come to recognize the house where the giant, angry German shephards live and we’ve come to expect that they’ll hurl themselves against the fence to try to get out to chase us. We know where our friend, the beagle with the mournful bark, lives. We say hi to him because he’s sweet and friendly and we can tell he’s just saying hello when he barks. The big black dog of unknown parentage is another story. He is mean. He can also jump rather high. I’m a little worried about him because his growl and bark is definitely very hostile. Sookie, who somehow is ok with the confined dogs, does not like him. As soon as he hurls himself at the gate as though to jump over and get us, she looks up at me, her ears go flat and she growls in defense.

We walk by that house quickly.

We’ve also taken to walking quickly by the house with the concrete pig. It’s a cute lawn statue that’s not quite life-sized but still a substantially sized pig. Sookie does not like this pig. She has decided that Concrete Pig is her enemy. She is not afraid of Concrete Pig but she does try to go after it the same way she does with the broom when I’m sweeping the floor at home. That is to say, she bravely lunges at it when it’s not moving but as soon as I start sweeping, she runs away in fear. With Concrete Pig, she edges close to it and barks her “I’m not afraid of you,” woof but if I so much as say “Oink!” in response, she’s backed away quicker than if you can say, well, “Oink.”

The one lady I will always make sure we don’t encounter too closely is the lady who, at first, I thought was a professional dog walker. She has five large dogs and one small one that she somehow manages to guide around the block quite regularly. It turns out…they’re all hers. They’re rather angry dogs and I’ve seen her get pulled along behind them as they spot some prey down the street. Thus, we make sure to make her walk easier by getting out of her way as well as making it less terrifying for the pups.

Mostly, our neighbourhood dogs are friendly so it’s not a huge problem. I’d just like to be the pet parent with the well-behaved dogs, not the growler who doesn’t play well with others.

In short, the warm weather is nice but it’s made our solitary walks a little less solitary. I suppose with the warmer weather, that’s to be expected. It’s just something we’ll have to get used to. I’m hoping Sookie gets used to the company too. She tends to be ok when we go over the park after we’ve passed by a certain number of dogs. She settles down. Thus, I know it’s possible. It’s just going to take a little training, that’s all.

Sometimes, I really wish I lived next door to the real Dog Whisperer. That would make life easy. Also, it’d make life much quieter because it would mean there weren’t three yappy dogs next door.

Still, if life was that easy, it wouldn’t be much fun…would it?

It might be a little quieter though!
Happy Friday and have a great weekend!

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