Nov 25, 2017 | Serra's Story

Wonderful/odd day today.

Spider and I worked outside Best Buy and Winners today (Black Saturday). He did a wonderful job. He acknowledged every person who walked by us with a glance and a wag, but looked right back to make eye contact with me. Kids were harder, he got his whole body into the wags, but came back immediately when they were obviously walking by and didn’t lunge at them.

I started the day with him on his halter. After five minutes I switched the leash from the halter to the collar but left the halter on him. Another five and I took the halter off and worked him only on the collar.

I let him talk to anybody who asked, asking them to please stop touching him if his feet came off the ground. I confess I had a good grip on his collar and stopped him from jumping several times, but overall he did a good job of controlling himself (that is, he put his paroxysms of delight into winding himself around their hands instead of going for their throats (tongue to throats that is, not teeth).

Two funny things happened. Given somebody working a very large dog on one side of a sidewalk with a shopping cart in the middle of the walk, what weird person takes the path of the red arrow? Didn’t stop, didn’t say hello, didn’t sneak in a pat, no other traffic.

Strange. Spider was wonderful, did his usual glance and wag and came back as usual.

And… I got schooled. Woman with a kid about 5 came along, asked if she could pet. This was just after I took the halter off. I said yes, but he’s young and please take your hands off him if his feet come off the ground and give him a chance to collect himself.

So she comes really close to him, hovers over him, and puts her hands all over him. This is too much and he starts with little hops, at which point she says “You’re gonna love this little trick!” and grabs his collar, pulls it up really snug against his jawbones and starts to pull up while her other hand slides back to smack his butt. At that point I grabbed his collar back and pulled him back with me saying “No, thanks, we don’t do that”. You could see the thought go through her brain – oh, a cookie pusher! And she turned around, grabbed the kid, and left. Good reminder to me (if I needed it) to keep my hands off other people’s dogs without permission.

When we got home we did some more dumbbell work. Today he has many questions about exactly what will get paid – one canine outside the bar and one inside? No. Lips hanging on but incisors closed with no grip? No. He even deliberately threw it back on his molars, staring at me as he asked the question. He can hold with me now for 8 seconds with a lovely quiet mouth. I tossed a few – he can’t think what to do with the dumbbell if it’s more than 5 feet away from us, but if I toss a treat over near it, he’ll notice it once he’s out there. Tossed closer, he can bring it back today in only two stages.

And then we started working through Shade Whitesel’s Shaping Heeling class. I was so inspired by the outing that I started working heeling with both Spider and Syn. Short sessions of eye contact from in front, then me walking backwards, and rewarding behind me from my left hand. Syn’s so ridiculously happy to be working again she can hardly contain herself. Spider not so much, didn’t have a clue what I was doing.