Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Ellie Joins Rack's Pack

I'm a strong believer that you can't tire out a dog.   There are exceptions, Senior dogs, very small breeds, English or American Bulldogs.  But for the vast majority of us out there, you can't walk your dog further than they need.

Rack gets more than 3 miles a day.  I benefit from that as well.  It fights Middle Aged Spread, gets me out of the house, and most importantly it is a great bonding experience.

Spouting about this over and again, I've mentioned this to my friends and neighbors like a mantra.   You'll bond with your dog, your relationship with this intelligent family member will grow leaps and bounds.

All that happy stuff.

Guess what?   It works.

My neighbors, Lisa and Bill, have a mixed breed.  A mutt if you will, I prefer "Heinz 57".  A little of this and a little of that went into making the stew that is Ellie.   She's fiercely loyal, somewhat territorial, and very energetic.  

She also was picking up some bad habits.  When they got her, I would walk out the front door of my own house and get barked at.  From inside of their house I would hear barking.  So I'd call out "Hi Ellie" and she'd stop.  When I'd visit, Ellie would go crazy barking at the window wanting to say hello.

We rearranged the furniture so she couldn't climb into the window and look out, gave her more time outdoors, and I brought over some toys that were extras.   David in Key West came up with a big bag of them and you can't really have spare toys everywhere. 

But Ellie didn't get walked much.   She'd get to visit the front yard, but then back indoors. 

Recently, that changed.   Ellie started going out on an occasional walk with us.  It turned out that they were concerned how she'd react to Rack.   Rack, my McNab Dog, is made out of rubber bands and springs.  He bounces five feet in the air when he sees another dog.   He is THAT into being around his canine friends that I have to hold him back.  Puppy enthusiasm can be intense when you're an active herding breed, but that luckily has peaked.   He's now a year old and beginning to lose some of that bouncy freaky enthusiasm.

He's now only jumping four feet and eleven inches when he sees other dogs.

Ok, maybe now that slight a difference, but I can tell the intensity is dialed down from 11 to maybe a 10 on the scale.

More importantly, Ellie took it in style.   The first time she met my hyper puppy, she snarled at him and snapped once.  We call that the Puppy Slap.   Rack isn't quite that jumpy now with her, and Ellie is more used to this greeting when they meet.  

Bill had Ellie, I had Rack, and we walked down the block toward the Old City Hall.   It went much better than we could have hoped.   Ellie walked behind us, I had Rack next to me.  Rack understood that this was a chance to be in a pack and became the leader while I guided him as the supervisor around to the Park.

When we got to the Women's Club, I told Bill that it was time to head to Wilton Drive and see if Ellie could take the noise and the bustle of the city.   He was up for the experience.  It turns out that Ellie was better than we could have hoped.   She simply walked down the block past the buses and trucks and handled the E-16 fire truck with sirens blazing and lights flashing when it left the station better than Rack did.

It's not perfect, she still pulls Bill down the block but she's getting better.   He's noticing improvement and it's helping Rack to walk more normally with the pack. 

Our pack now has a routine.   Before the last walk, we get a message whether Ellie and Bill are joining us, and if so, we have a better time of it.   Rack relaxes and acts like the Big Brother, and Ellie gets out and sees the world with us.  We get to see the Drive, use the benches, and visit things outside in the Big World beyond.
It's not so scary out there any more.  But if it is, take a puppy or two.  You just might need it, and the puppy will really enjoy it.

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