|Gavin was a total twerp to leash train. He refused every greasy, gross hot dog, meatball, and cheese morsel I offered him. And, every time I thought I shortened his walk enough to keep him from becoming frustrated, his butt-biting stress relief occurred sooner.|
I can’t tell you how many times I desperately yelled to someone running across the street to avoid my cheek chomper and me, “he’s super sweet. He’s just super annoyed right now.”
We were both done and depleted one afternoon but still a few blocks from home. Gavin expectantly eyed the tree next to us while he ricocheted and yanked on the leash. So, I exhaustedly said, “get it,” and his whole face lit up like a holiday tree as he raced up the tree and kinda hugged-grabbed it. I was amazed at his prowess and ability to land on all four pork chop legs. The last thing I wanted was for him to experience multiple ACL surgeries as Finn did.
After Gavin raced up the tree, he was happy, relaxed, and even looked at me a couple of times for the remainder of our walk. So, letting Gavin jump on trees became my new reward for good leash walking behavior. I was unbelievably proud of myself for discovering Gavin’s innate talent. And he loved entertaining neighbors with his trunk racing knack. So many people stopped, in awe, to watch then meet the dog-who-jumps-on-trees, which made Gavin even more gleeful.
Just when my puffed-up self-talk for my brilliant discovery couldn’t get any grander, Gavin chomped the bark on one of his tree hurdling escapades. Even though he was grinning from ear to ear, his face was bloody and he chipped a tooth. My short stint of super-genius dog rewarding abilities ended as quickly as it started. And, my back-end took the brunt of Gavin’s subsequent walks-are-boring-irritated-biting.
Our walks are now delightful and easy (mostly) because Gavin relies on routine, and when it’s noisy, cold, or wet, I always give him the option to choose his path. Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about how I’m going to give him his favorite 1.3-mile hour and a half walk through the park when we move.
He’s never enjoyed car time before a walk, that’s too much change for him, and the likelihood that we’ll find a place close to the trail as we live now is low. Like many things in life, the decision was made for me. The path is currently under extensive construction, so it’s been loud. And rumor on the street is the city is building bridges across the river, so it seems the commotion will continue.
Because of the hubbub, Gavin’s been choosing our shorter walk lately. And, yesterday, as he sniffed and meandered, we kept crossing paths with a charming woman who petted him every time we saw her. She remarked to me about the blooming flowers while Gavin shimmied and jiggled for her. His joy gave me the peace of mind I needed as I prepare him for the next chapter of our life together. With love, patience, and planning, he’ll be fine.
May your day be filled with serene surprises and unlimited joy in the ways only dogs can bring us.