Monday, January 28, 2008

Walks, Walks...and More Walks

On the road to selling a home, one must be absent for periods of time when a Realtor shows people through.

And not only was I to absent myself, I was expected to take Lucky and Nate with me.

This presented a problem. Our two Dogs, Lucky and Nate, were far too strong for me, when leashed. Both pulled in opposite directions, both competed against the other, as to who went first...and should a Cat or a Deer wander into view...well, chaos, a mild word in this case, reigned.

Realtors know everything, at least ours seems to. She directed me to our local pet shop, where she told me she had bought prong collars for her two dogs, both strong Labs.

Sceptically, at first by the looks of those collars, and also, beset by doubt that anything would work on our headstrong Dogs, we bought them, taking them home to immediately try them out.

We endured the usual ruckus created by the sight of the leash, waiting for each to settle down, before attempting to collar them. I managed to close them, but only just...the collars are definitely not made for arthritic fingers.

We tried this out while Graham was still here to help the first time. I expected the usual arm-out-of-the-socket routine, as I'm dragged out of the garden gate...

Lucky and Nate took to these collars as if they had always had them. Walking with alertness, but with entire docility, by my side, there were a few whimpers and growls when Cat walked stiffly across their path. But there was little pulling, even with this extreme provocation.

A friend commented were he to put one of those collars around Graham's neck, Graham would walk quietly, as well.

As funny as the vision was, he had a point. I placed one around my neck, and found it to be not uncomfortable, even when I pulled it tight. It gave a definite warning, however, as to who was the leader of the pack.

There are rules to be followed, in the use of prong collars. And I find a slight correction with my hand holding the leash is all I need, in the training of Lucky and Nate. I would definitely not yank back on the leash; this would be too much strength, and I'm sure would hurt them.

On the other hand, they are not attempting to lunge forward, now, with the prong collars on. It seems both Dogs settle down as soon as they see the collars, becoming completely calm. And willing to sit quietly, while I wrestle with the stainless steel collars, when a Walk is imminent, as it was yesterday.

With Graham now moved to Williams Lake, it falls to me to take them on that Walk.

They waited, eagerly, by the garden gate, each sitting down. Quietly. Previously, after leashes had been placed on them, there would be circular races run around me, and much howling and whining. It would be difficult to put gloves and coat on, in preparation of the Walk, with these two.

I was left to myself. I glanced at Lucky and Nate, perplexed and astounded. Who had trained these two overnight?

I picked up the leashes, steeling myself. The gate has a latch, which when exposed to freezing temperatures, is difficult to open. I struggled with it, this time made even harder with the two leashes in my hands.

I felt as if I were a Duchess, as the three of us walked out of the gate, with no struggling and extreme tension. Before the Collar Event, these two would have already exhausted me, even before we moved up the front steps...

And now, Lucky and Nate moved as if they had been Supremely trained.

As we wandered through the streets, avoiding places where other Dogs and their Owners congregate, both of them moved calmly by my side, enjoying the Walk.

It was very cold; few people were about. The day started with Sun blazing down from cloudless Sky but now...there were huge, dark Clouds obscuring Sun's face. And stinging nettles of icy Rain pelted us, as we continued to stroll, up this street and down the next.

I noticed some gardens were beginning to flourish; most were still sleeping, especially with the vicious Cold and Wind which was now occurring. I couldn't imagine many gardeners wanting to brave frozen soil such as we have right now...and then I remembered to where I was moving...

And I realized here on the Coast, were it not for the frozen soil, I would be turning and mulching, doing the beginning of the Year work in the garden. But up in the Cariboo, an easy foot of Snow still blanketed the area.

And an Arctic Cold Front has swept down over the interior of BC, giving Williams Lake a temperature of -23 C, with the Wind chill. I had better get accustomed to cold temperatures.

As we walked, I mulled over this, becoming lost in thoughts of planting Lilac and other Trees and Shrubs which do well in the North. I recognized the itchy fingers of a Gardener in the very early signs of a new Season.

The Dogs jerked me to awareness of the present, when a fancy, white Lady Poodle strutted down another street, into Lucky and Nate's view. I am here to tell you these Collars do nothing to stop the vocal cords in a Dog.

These two hooligans raised a huge ruckus, with their woo-wooing and urgent calls to the Lady, who ignored them completely, as the impeccably groomed true Lady she was.

But they did not pull.

I turned them and walked the other way, chuckling to myself. The Duchess had fallen, in full view of the inhabitants of this street.

And so it goes, when a home is for sale. Walks, walks and more walks, each begun with the hope that these people will buy.

It is a process, as slow as it seems. All things in their time...

Nate, Lucky and I will just have to walk off our impatience...and be grateful for the fact we can.

11 comments:

  1. Walking dogs and daydreaming. I can't think of two more enjoyable activities. Misty my alpha Poodle sets the pace for my four, a brisk but ladylike pace and the rest fall in beside her. It's so precious to see them follow her lead.

    It's great to see you enjoying yourself in what could be an inconvenient situation.

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  2. We've had very good luck with a Gentle Leader, which is a halter type lead, and actually turns the dog's head when you tug on the leash. This breaks his focus on whatever he's moving toward. We have a 90-lb dog, and I have no trouble controlling him with a Gentle Leader, even with arthritis in my shoulders. But with any choke type collar, he chokes himself. Haven't tried a prong type, but there's no need to with the GL.

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  3. Reminds me of the time I had 3 dogs and 2 cats to look after when the realtor sold my home. Total nightmare.

    Glad you are able to control the dogs and enjoy your walks.

    Heard the Gentle Leader a very good option with unruly dogs (like mine have always been).

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  4. Jan,

    That's exactly what I was doing...the first time I have ever been able to relax walking both dogs. I would love to see Misty take the lead in her pack...it makes me smile to think of it!

    The house has only been listed for three days; I am far too impatient for this whole thing to be over with!

    Barbara,

    So glad the Leader works for you. Nate accepts it well, when he's by himself. Lucky will not wear it at all...he dislikes anything around his muzzle. It is the competition between the two dogs that leads to the pulling, I think...neither one wants his nose to be behind the other.

    After this is all over, I doubt I will use the prong collar much...and it also trains the dog not to pull, so I may not need to...but right now, it is a Godsend!

    I guess Dogs are all different, just like the human species!

    Jackie,

    I love how you describe your experience. Total Nightmare...I should have used that as the title to my post, lol!

    This morning, I got up to see diarrhoea all over the freshly shampooed carpet.This has never happened before, but both Dogs miss Graham and have been out of sorts for the past few days.

    But, I ask myself, why does this wonderful 'gift' have to happen NOW? I have prospective purchasers coming through in a couple of hours.

    All I can say is I hope the carpet dries before then. Thankfully, there is little odour, but that could be due to the bottle of perfume I sprayed over the area.

    This morning, I am thinking seriously about the "Spa" for these dogs, during this time. There is so much excitement around here for them, which they are not used to.

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  5. Walking dogs is great exercise Marion. But I know what you mean, sometimes they can be very strong willed and have minds of their own! I used to have a little Westie like that. Sounds like those special collars did the trick. I'm sure a buyer will appear very soon. Your house is very special. Best of luck Marion.

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  6. nate and lucky are so adorable.
    our chewie is one strong dog, being the petite me, will be pulled by her whenever we go for walks, i've have her running and circling around me and i look so silly to the joggers round my neighborhood! hehe

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  7. I am so glad you wrote this post. I have such a hard time with my dog yanking my arm out of my socket. She never seems able to settle down and trying to keep track of her and my daughter frustrates me to the point that I just don't walk her anymore. We do have a big yard, but she enjoys walks so much.

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  8. My granddog is a puller and has one of these. Glad you have found a way to teach these guys who is boss.

    When we sold the last house, Samantha was no longer with us. I do remember piling her into our little red car and driving around while potential buyers looked at the previous house. Finally, we took to getting in the car and parking up the street and waiting until visitors left. Once you find buyers it will be a great relief to have normalcy back until the closing.

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  9. Good luck with selling. The house market here is at a low and we are still trying to sell our house. I had not heard of Prong collars before so I had to google it to see what they looked like. They are a good idea as the last thing you want is the dogs pulling you.

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  10. Good luck with selling the house.

    I am glad you found a way to control your dogs. I tried the gentle leader with my Annie. It worked well. In fact it worked too well. It totally changed her personality when she wore it, causing her to lose any desire she may have had to go for a walk to the point she would just lie down and mope whenever I put it on her.

    Having Parkinson's Disease, I had to find a different alternative if I was ever going to walk her again. Luckily I found a harness that was guaranteed to work. I was skeptical at first - every harness I had ever used before gave the advantage to the dog. This one however, is designed in such a way that it will start to pull the dogs front legs out from under it when it pulls. Annie loves it.

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  11. Alison,

    I don't mind looking silly; it's the pain those Dogs inflict on my sockets, as they dash here and there!

    Naomi,

    I believe it's the terrier in both the dogs; I am not accustomed to terriers. And they definitely have their own minds!

    Marsha,

    The collars take a bit of getting used to, both by the handler and the dog. I practice a lot in the backyard with them, especially lately, lol!

    Sheila,

    Good to know someone who uses them and understands there is a need for them, in some cases. Thanks!

    Yes, things have settled down...an offer we accepted appeared last week. Only some conditions remain.

    Davem,

    I don't believe I will have to use the prong collars long, the other day I had them both out with only their leather collars and leash and they behaved well. We'll see.

    PD,

    There are so many different ways. I'm glad you found a way with your Annie. One of my dogs had the same reaction to the leader, and then made the walk miserable, if I made him come.

    Thank you all for your good wishes and prayers...they worked quickly; the house sold last week, with a couple of small conditions. Closing date is February 29.

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