Last weekend our cousin Snowy came for a visit – along with Auntie K and Uncle S. We had a blast which included many walks around the neighborhood (our ‘Hood). The coolest part of their arrival was that we didn’t have to spend all Friday in our crate since they arrived well before our parents on that afternoon. Second best part was that they brought the portrait of Montana that AK painted:
So now she is next to Sam and Banshee!
But I digress. The real point of my story was how Zoe almost ruined the whole weekend when she bolted away from the pack when she saw a squirrel after sliding down the slide at the park. See, everyone was having a blast taking turns going down the slides for kids that they have at our local park. We were planning a triple shimmer (they have a three panel slide) when Zoe took her last solo flight. Somehow, in all our anticipation of the Big Triple someone (Dad?) did not get a firm hold of Zo-bug’s leash so when she saw the aforementioned squirrel, she made a charge for the furry little beast and in so doing, realized that she was essentially “off leash” – even though the leash was still attached to her collar there was no human at the other end to reel her in. And off to the races she went! And boy she is fast. A number of cars stopped and asked about her/offered to help, as the rest of the pack was following her – I (and Snowy) didn’t really care if she found a new family to live with but my parents and Aunt/Uncle seemed to think they had to coral her before she found a new home – or got injured.
In order to stop her from sprinting off they tried to employ some of the lessons we have been working on at doggy (human) training. The upshot of this was my parents realized they needed to do a lot more work on the “come” command. Zoe did stay relatively close and would do a fly by when they called out to her (at least sometimes) but she remained a good leash length away from them so as not to be captured. Eventually, she wore down (and got distracted by a very pungent skunk odor) at which point Mom regained control of her (Zoe’s) leash.
So realizing that Zoe might be associating the “Come” command with “Capture” or no more fun, Mom suggested that we go to the local dog park and work on getting Zoe to return to them when she was off leash and reward her with a treat. For this exercise they utilized hot dogs. So before I go on I have a couple of quick asides. 1) Hot dogs are tasty things and I was glad to find out that they are not really made of dogs, 2) Local dog park? How did I not know about this until now? Come on people!! Anyhow, we went there both days this weekend and had a bloody muddy mess of a good time. On Day 1, Zoe didn’t set any recall records but Athena (my new best friend) and I were always right at Mom’s hot dog containing pocket as soon as she uttered the “come” command. In fact, the two of us hardly left her side from that point on.
Ms. ADHD (aka Zoe freak off leash) was randomly running around the lot.
On Day 2, we were both much more in tune with our parents and would immediately come from anywhere in the park and stop at Mom’s feet and await our reward. Again, despite no Athena, we were having a blast playing fetch with yet another new friend. He may have been a bit older than us but nowhere near the age of Sammy. This particular trip to the park ended shortly after Zoe tackled our new friend in the mud. It was TOTALLY a legal hit – the other dog had already touched the ball – but the other dog’s owner was not particularly excited by the additional dirt that had now encapsulated his pup. To be fair to Zoe, his paws and underside were already filthy dirty but now his shoulder and back may have also been a bit muddy. That Zoe! To be clear, the dog left the park with a HUGE grin on his face.
After all of that, we still had to go to training today. But that is another story.
This weekend also reminded Zoe and I to always keep our eyes open to the spectacle of the world we live in – it can be quite amazing and beautiful.
Tempi and Zoe