When I decided to take the dogs on my road trip to my cousin's wedding, I was a little worried about Rye. She'd only been on one road trip before--and it was to my parents' house. She was terrified the whole drive and wouldn't get out to potty at any of our stops. She was ok once we got to the house, but she can be a nervous little thing, so I wasn't sure how she'd handle a place none of us had been before.
I shouldn't have worried because she loved it. From the spiral stairs that she ran up and down to the trail behind the house, she was in heaven.
|There were too many critters to watch to pay attention to the camera.|
Normally, Rye hates nature and only really tolerates adventures in the woods if Barley is with her, but she loved taking solo walks with me around the property (sometimes refusing to take care of her business unless I took her for a mini walk).
Right before the wedding, she decided she liked the property so much that she wanted to explore it on her own. We'd gone for a little walk on the trail before I got dressed and Rye had pottied, but Barley hadn't. I knew Barley would understand that she was just going out to pee if I got dressed and then took her out in the front yard right before we left, so I got dressed, did my hair and makeup, and slid on some moccasins to take Barley outside.
Any time I go out a door--whether it's taking the trash out at home or grabbing the mail--if the dogs aren't coming with me, I have them sit far enough away from the door that I can open it and have them stay until I get back. Even if I'm letting them into our fenced backyard, they have to sit at the door and wait--even after I've opened it--until I tell them they can go out. Rye had done very well with that at the cottage, so we started our routine and I had her sit and then opened the door. When she saw Barley going out without her, she was having none of that and darted out the door.
I tried not to panic and called her front. She started to turn to come back to me and at the same moment a squirrel darted across the driveway.
She took off up the hill beside the driveway. She'd taken off after a squirrel at my parents' house after slipping through the railings on their back porch and had just stayed under the tree until I got to her, which is also what she does in our yard, so again, I tried not to panic. I sent Barley back in the house and called my parents for back up.
My mom brought out our bag of freeze-dried lamb lung treats and I started walking in Rye's direction. When she looked at me and the treats, the squirrel took off to a new tree and Rye took off, too. Then she realized she had freedom and got zoomies. I tried to use the emergency down we've been working on in obedience, but she was having way too much fun to worry about that.
I just stood there and let her run, knowing she'd go in circles while she was that amped up.
At home, when it's dark and cold and I don't want to go out in the yard to bring her back inside when it's time for bed, I shake a bag of treats and she comes running. When I saw she was starting to slow down, I shook the bag of treats I had and asked her to come front. She hesitated for a second, but then came running full speed towards me. I asked for a sit, just like we'd practiced in obedience class, held the treat in front of her nose and took her collar before letting her have the treat. Even though I wanted to strangle her, I told her what a good, good puppy she was as we walked back towards the house--where I got her settled in her crate before finally taking Barley back out to pee.
When we got to the church for the wedding, the first thing I noticed was a stained glass window with a little beagle on it (and some really creepy, possibly offensively portrayed humans). I think someone or something was definitely watching over my little Sweet Potato Rye.
The whole experience probably lasted less than 5 minutes, but it felt like an eternity. Our cottage was surrounded by uncleared woods and miles of farmland, so if I'd panicked or gotten mad, Rye probably would have gone on an even bigger adventure--and who knows how long it would have taken to capture her then. I've never been more grateful for our obedience training than I was at that moment--but I hope that we never have to put it to use in a situation like that again!