Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Trainer, Heal Thyself

Well, it's definitely spring - Jai and I were assaulted yesterday by the first off leash dog of the season.

The medium-sized dog came flying across a busy street, snarling and snapping and got all up in Jai's face. Jai, bless him, may be a touch reactive but is also exceptionally dog tolerant. The second time the dog snapped at his face, Jai stood up on his toes, and raised his head and tail as if to say, "Really? Are you sure you want to do this?" The other dog realized that, no, he didn't actually want to throw down with a sixty-five pound pit bull, tucked tail, and ran back to his owner. (Who was too busy yelling at his dog and yanking him around to apologize for being an enormous butt-munch. I really loathe people some days).

Jai and I were both really upset by the incident. He was yanking on the end of his leash, his brain trying to fling itself around corners to see where the next zombie attack was going to come from. And I was just plain shaken up. If that had happened to Marnie or Rubi, there would have been blood. And either Cannon or Allister could have been seriously injured. Jai and I were not okay.

So I stopped us on the next block, and fed Jai peanut butter while he watched the world. Jai fell into the familiar routine of eating and watching, and I let myself be distracted by the pattern of watching my dog for rewardable moments. After just a few minutes, we were both much calmer: Jai was watching me more than the world, and I had stopped shaking. We finished our walk on a good note in spite of our incident with the other dog.

I often forget how good can be for us just to stop for a few minutes and get our bearings. I spend a great deal of time running around from one project to the next, and for the most part, I enjoy it. Much like my dogs, I like having things to do. But I think I sometime get so caught up in the rush that I forget how beneficial it is just to stop and watch the world for a few minutes.

Thanks for the reminder, Jai.


  1. It's amazing how fast the nice weather brings about off leash dogs. Glad that the whole run in didn't go any worse for you and Jai!

  2. My worst nightmare. Situations like that are so upsetting. We had one last week, i threw cheese at the approaching dog and it still didn't turn away to chase the food. Thankfully Sophie held her stay behind me. Good idea to stop and get your bearings again after such an incident. I raced home and in hindsight stopping would have been good for us.

  3. The same thing happened with my reactive pooch and I on a walk a few evenings ago; a big dog came bounding across the road towards us, barking loudly. I don't think s/he meant any harm, but my dog is very unpredictable and I think I stood on the spot uselessly saying "NO NO NO NO NO". I think my pooch was scared into submission for a change, because she just cowered at my side. The owner trotted over and apologised and I was so shaken up all I could do was pick up my dog and wander off.

    However, we too always take a couple of minutes to calm down after an incident like this. I'm not sure if it helps her but it certainly helps me!