Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Dogs Gone Wild…Or Maybe it Was Just Me

I’m not a calm person. I don’t handle intense situations well. I’m what you’d call wound a bit too tight. I try not to let it hold me back, but every so often, something happens that reminds me why I don’t do certain things. A something happened on Monday night.

We own three dogs: two Corgis (Siggy and Floki) and a black lab (Ryder). The black lab is huge, weighing in at 95 lbs. I kid you not, his head is the size of my small Corgi. And he’s terrible on a leash. That’s totally our fault. More often than not, we take him for walks in places where he doesn’t need a leash. But it’s also cyclical. We take him to these places because he’s terrible on a leash.

Anyway, Monday was a nice day. The sun was shining, and the kids really wanted to be outside. They asked if we could take the dogs for a walk, and since there were three of us (one for each dog), I agreed. We planned to go after dinner. While I was cooking, a small rain storm decided to blow through, soaking the ground and causing mud puddles. I was hesitant about going, but the boys convinced me if we stayed on the sidewalk, it would be fine. I relented.

Mistake #1.

Siggy loves going on walks, but she hates having her harness put on. She runs away or has to be held, which then makes it traumatic for her and she snaps and bites while putting it on. Once it’s on, she’s happy. But then comes the task of hooking up the leash. Getting her ready for a walk is at least a 10-minute ordeal.

The other two dogs practically put their collars and leashes on for us, then proceed to whine and dance until we head out. Ryder will run over anything that gets in his way on the way out, so he has to sit until the boys are out the door and situated.

My irritation level was on the rise before we even left the house.

I knew that since the walk was going to be an ordeal I should make it worthwhile. I put a bunch of treats in my pocket so that I could keep Ryder under control and reward him for listening. After grabbing some plastic bags, we headed out. The boys went first, then Ryder and I followed.

Mistake #2.

Once outside, I went to close the garage door, but it has issues and pops back open if someone isn’t pushing it down. Of course, since I didn’t have the opener, I had to use the keypad, and the damn buttons stick. I was trying to keep hold of Ryder, who more than once tried to wiggle out of his collar, and get the door closed. When that was finally accomplished, we headed up the street.

Everything started out fine. Ryder was jerking me down the sidewalk, but I was pulling him back and trying to make him heel. The boys were running up ahead of us with the Corgis, so Ryder wanted to run too. But I was determined to make him obey. He even got a few treats for listening.

We ran into a coworker of mine, then a neighborhood kid. Floki rolled around on the wet sidewalk in some dead worms. At one point, Floki stopped to go to the bathroom, which my oldest had to pick up. He handed me the bag, then we continued on our way.

At some point during all of this, the neighborhood boy had run to his house to grab his dog to take for a walk. I’m not sure what kind of dog it is, but it’s bigger—not 95 lbs big, but big enough. When it saw our dogs, it lunged to come across the street, pulling the poor kid over onto the sidewalk. He landed hard, and I saw his head connect with the cement.

He did what any other kid in that situation would do: he ran home. Without his dog. Who had run across the street to greet my dogs. That, as you can imagine, caused Ryder to lunge forward. I don’t think it was in an aggressive manner, but I wasn’t sure. And I was freaking out that I wouldn’t be able to hold onto him. Plus, I had no idea how that other dog was going to react.

Siggy, who is a lot like me (high strung and panicky) was losing her doggy mind. She was barking and carrying on, which then caused Floki to get into the action. Emotions were running high at this point, so I decided the best thing we could do was head back home.

Probably Mistake #3.

The other dog started to follow us, which was to be expected. I mean, the excitement was heading down the street! During this time, the mom of the neighborhood boy had come out to collect her dog, and let out her 100-lb chocolate lab—and he didn’t have a leash. I don’t care how nice your dog is, when it comes barreling at me and my dog, it’s going to scare me. And it caused Ryder to once again lunge forward.

The boys had the Corgis quite a ways down the street, but Siggy was still losing her mind, so it drew the attention of the big lab, who then went barreling down the street at her. I’m not sure if I was yelling at this point or just trying to keep a hold of Ryder—it wouldn’t surprise me if I was yelling. There was so much chaos going on, it was drawing people onto their porches to see what the hell was happening.

Keep in mind, this entire time, I’m still holding a bag of dog crap.

Finally, we get all the dogs under control. The boys made it home with the Corgis, and Ryder and I were on our way back. He decided to stop and go to the bathroom on the sidewalk, so I stopped to clean it up, hoping the entire time he didn’t decide to take off running. Thankfully, he didn’t.

So, we finally make it home. I threw away the bags, inwardly thankful it hadn’t gotten all over me. I was shaking like a leaf. My oldest was also shaken, and he told me how scared he was when the big lab came running at him. We get our dogs corralled, then headed back up to the house to see if the neighborhood boy was all right.

He had scraped his hip and bonked his forehead. He was on the couch with some ice, so we didn’t see him, but we talked to his mom. We discussed what happened and the craziness, then the boys and I went back home.

Later that night, I thought about the situation again, which caused my anxiety to spike. I questioned everything that had happened. Had I overreacted? Was there something different I could have done? Why did I think I could take the dog for a walk by myself?

Long story short, this is why I don’t take the 90-lb dog for a walk.

However, with the chaos, uncertainty, and fear came the determination that Ryder will learn how to walk nicely on a leash and I will be able to control him.

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