Saturday, September 15, 2012

The Value of a Well-Trained Pup

Sometimes I forget how crazy my first six months with Barley were.

I forget that the longer we walked, the more energy seemed to have when we got home.

I forget that we didn't sleep through the night until I discovered she loved Jewel, especially the Perfectly Clear album.

And, most of the time, I forget how responsive she is to my body language and commands (although she does go through bouts of obstinacy--but if you ask my mom, this is karma coming after me).  With the exception of her reactive encounters with other dogs, Barley's always been a relatively good walker.  Even though she would never be able to pass the straight-line test if we ever got pulled over . . . and our trainer did say she was bound to kill me if we kept weaving like that--but she's never really pulled; she's always been content to trot along at the end of her leash and never fusses when I tell her we're done sniffing some new smell.  Now that she's well trained with heeling and walks nicely beside me 92% of the time, I forget what it's like to walk a dog who doesn't heel.

Today, though, I remembered.  I met a sweet little boy pup named Xavier while volunteering with Barley's mothership.  Xavier's a 10-month-old purebred Pit Bull and he was a doll.  Our introduction was very similar to the one I had with my Barley girl.  I said, "Well, hello. Aren't you handsome?" He stood in his cage and wiggled.  I took him out and he was in my lap smothering me with kisses.  The rest of my time at the adopt-a-thon, we were pretty much inseparable--I tried to console a lab/houd mix who didn't like being in her crate and Xavier looked at me with the saddest eyes, so I had to leave SadieMae to the other volunteers.

As adorable as Xavier is, he is also a bundle of puppy energy (although he's housebroken--and his adoption fee is waived to an approved adopter because someone else fell in love with him and wanted to be sure he could go to a good home!) and every last inch of him is pure muscle, so he was a handful on a leash.
After going for mini-walks outside every 20 minutes or so, he finally wore out enough for me to take his picture.

Hello, Handsome!
By the end of our 3-hours together, we'd gotten better at walking together, but it definitely made me miss walking with my Barley girl.  My arms got a good workout today while I held on for dear life, so I'm guessing I'll probably be sore tomorrow!  But when we were inside, I sat on the floor with this sweet boy and he stayed in my lap the whole time--so I left at the end of my shift a little bit brokenhearted--fingers crossed he finds his furever home soon.

I got home to a very grumpy Barley Bear--she does not like it when I leave her for other dogs--even if I bring home a new toy for her.

Why does your lap smell like someone else?
I had to sit on the porch and let her sniff me for a good 15 minutes before she'd actually go out into the yard.  After that, I gave her a new mummy toy (yay Halloween toys!) and all was forgiven.
Seriously, how cute is this?
Despite the caffeine boost I picked up at Starbucks on my way home, I needed a nap and Barley was happy to snuggle up next to me after I changed into new clothes and we had a lovely lazy afternoon.

Then, since it was gorgeous outside and I needed to remember what it felt like to walk a well-trained dog, we walked down to the park near our house and practiced stays and heeling.
We had a lot of fun crunching these leaves between exercises.

I'm not sure why there are large crayon-looking things, but there are two and they are perfect for practicing figure eights.
We also had several unexpected dog encounters on our way to and from the park, so we got to practice Barley's focus, too.  I had just enough treats left in my pocket to get us past Barley's arch-nemesis, Little Bit the Yorkie, before we ducked back into our parking lot.

One week until the TDI test--heeling and stays are going well, but I am not convinced we'll survive the walking over spilled food portion of the test . . . that's our goal for the next few days.  Fingers crossed.

1 comment:

  1. She's got it! Halloween toys are the best. It was so hard to pick which one I wanted for Maddux!

    I hope Xavier gets a great home, too! He's such a cutie and if he's as sweet as you say I'm sure he will have no problems :-)