It is good to have an end to journey towards, but it is the journey that matters in the end.
~ Ursula K. LeGuin
Cereal and toast
Check a Sheila Video
THE LAST MILE
3 July 2004I posted this early because we're about to get on the road to Santa Barbara.
Sheila and I have had our last walk in the drainage channel. At least for a long, long time.
Since SchizoDog came in and invaded the previously docile Sheila's body, I've been working to get her over her aversion to the leash (I won't say her fear of the leash, because it's definitely an aversion).
I sat in a chair with the leash behind me and a bag of treats in my lap. I'd call her, hold her collar, give her a treat, tell her what a good dog she was, put the leash on her, continue giving her treats, petting her, and then removing the leash. The lesson was repeated several times. That quickly worked just fine.
In the house.
I also took her out on the leash and that seemed to go just fine. She let me put the leash on her and take her out and take it off just fine when we got home.
Yesterday I had a dental appointment in the morning and Walt had the car, so Sheila and I didn't go out at all. And you know what they say about a bored dog--a bored dog is a destructive dog.
Any piece of paper she's found anywhere has been torn into confetti around here. She's still not destructive, but I figure it's only a matter of time.
I decided that we'd try the drainage channel again today.
She knew what was up when I got up, put on my shoes, and made coffee. She was all excited because she knew that the "let's go" was only minutes away.
I got the leash. She sat dutifully for having the leash put on. I put her in the car, packed up my clicker and my baggie of doggie treats and off we headed to the drainage channel We were earlier this morning and got there at 6. With the days getting shorter now, albeit just barely shorter, the sun was just barely up when we got there.
She was thrilled to be back at the channel again and immediately took off chasing birds.
I decided that I'd work on the leash thing before it became an issue (i.e., when we were starting out, not when we were coming back when I'm afraid she'll run into traffic.
My plan was to call, click, and then hold her while I gave her her treat--not put the leash on her, but just have her come and be touched before she got her treat.
Sheila had other ideas. She was free and she wasn't going to let me touch her for love, money, or treats. She would come when I called, but if my hand moved at all, other than to hold out a treat, she was off like a flash.
Oh, she had a wonderful time. We hit the road up to the bike path just as a dog came along and she was up to the path and chasing the dog instantly. I dragged myself up the path, the road to which has become almost perpendicular and it takes my pulling myself up by grabbing onto the fence. She came when I called her, but stayed a good distance away from me. She finally went back down into the ditch and I fell going down the path because the dirt is hard and crumbly. My bad shoulder began to ache.
I stopped trying to call her and resigned myself to her running out of the channel without being on leash. I kept trying to get her to come for a treat but she was having none of it, especially since more dogs came along than usual. She had a great run, back and forth, chasing dogs and birds and joggers.
She even tried crossing the creek and got completely soaked trying to reach a boxer on the other side, who was also trying to get down his hill to get to Sheila (they never made it)
She positively beamed. She was back and she was going to make the most of it.
Even my clicker got temperamental and wouldn't work.
At one point I managed to get her to come and tentatively take a treat. I dumped a bunch on the ground, thinking I could reach her while she went for them, but don't try that with a herding dog. The head is faster than the hand. She'd rather leave the treats than risk my touching her and maybe putting her under control.
I resigned myself to not having her on leash when we got to the street and, of course, she reached the car long before I did. Then I heard skreeching tires and horns honking. She'd done what I was most afraid of--she'd run out in the the street and nearly got hit.
By the time I got to the car, she was there waiting for me. She still wouldn't let me touch her, but happily jumped into the car when I opened the door, and once we got home, she ran right to the door and into the kitchen, waiting for her treat.
I'm really glad she had such a wonderful time today because she won't be seeing that channel again for a very long time.
My only hope is that the city will make good on its promise to get a temporary dog park fenced off soon, otherwise the only freedom Ms. Sheila is going to know is in the back yard.