Flashback Friday

Not all that confident around dogs, strangers, and in a new location.

Sometimes, it’s hard for me to remember how far we’ve come. It’s times like these that make me wish I’d started blogging about Risa as soon as I brought her home! Fortunately, I still have record of many of our struggles over the years. Today, I’m going to share one of our adventures from September 30, 2007 (exactly four years ago!):

Ris has a new nickname: the Oxymoron Dog. Why? Because she drives me nuts and she keeps me sane.

Y’know those kids that are really good at academics and sports? The ones the parents are so proud of? The same kids who, the minute you take them out in public, find the best ways to embarrass the heck out of their parents? If Risa were a human child, that is the kind of kid she would be!

I have learned from countless failures that exercising Risa before taking her somewhere where she has to behave is the best bet for success. So I took her on a walk before we left. I even decided to be stupid and let her off-leash in the courtyard to burn off a little bit of extra energy. She did pretty good paying attention to me and coming back into my vicinity when asked. Then she saw the birds. . .all I could think was “Oh great, I’ve lost her now!” She ran right at them, scattering them to the wind with a big grin on her face. I said “Risa, c’mon!” and she broke off her pursuit and came back to me. Hooray!

After a short break in the house, I packed her up into the car and we took off to the pet blessing. It wasn’t really too crowded but there were quite a few dogs and their people there. I also saw at least two cats and a rabbit. Ris is much better going to new places now and doesn’t freak out like she used to. She was a bit on edge but confident enough to walk around without her tail between her legs.

She was too busy looking around and taking everything in to notice her trainer was there. But eventually she figured out she was there and said hi to her and her dog (who Ris hasn’t met before). Ris actually met a lot of new dogs today and was very good about it too. Of course, it helps when the dogs aren’t rude dogs. They were all very good about sniffing nicely and not jumping right into Ris’ space. There was only one dog Risa barked and lunged at and when she did I backed her away from said dog and calmed her down. After that, she didn’t pay much mind to that dog.

When it was time for Risa to get blessed, I was wondering how she would react to this guy coming towards her. She checked him out a bit and then shied away so I crouched down and encouraged her to go see him. Ris approached him and sniffed his hands a bit so he started the blessing. He no sooner finished the first sentence and Risa left to go look at something over in the field. I laughed at her and called her “ADD Dog” and beckoned her to come back over so he could finish.

Playtime with the puppy!

We milled around after the blessing and met more dogs and people. Ris likes to investigate new people so I caught her sniffing many passerbys. If they reached out to pet her she’d back away and I’d tell them she’s a bit shy. Still, there were a few people she’d never met before who managed to get their hands on her. I was pretty surprised how social she was being.

One of the Ibizan Hounds we know was there and she found a great scent to roll in. Once she finished, Risa tried to enjoy a nice roll too. But I stopped her. Talking with the hound’s owner, I do think it’s possible Ris has some sighthound in her based on some similar behaviors. Another person who saw her thought she had some greyhound in her. Who knows!?

Eventually we ended up hanging out with the Rotti from the Head-Start class we assisted. Risa had only met him once before (other than seeing him from her kennel). Apparently Ris really likes him because she started playing with him on-leash! Ris doesn’t play with dogs she barely knows. The two of them were having a blast. The leash anchors weren’t! It was tough to have two dogs playing on 4-foot leashes. The Rotti’s owner dropped his leash since she knew he’d stay with Risa. I had to drop Ris’ at one point because they were tied up. I thought Ris would stay close by but I was wrong! Once she realized she was free she took off. She LOVES to run and she bolted right towards the road. Great. 🙁 I called to her and said some key words (like “dinner”). Other people there called for her as well. Eventually she came back away from the road and ran towards the open field. She was having a great time. I called to her and took off running in the other direction to try and get her to come with me. Ris started running back towards the group and ended up rejoining her Rotti friend. His owner grabbed her leash for me and I got her back. Everyone commented on how FAST she is. I honestly wish I could let her full out run more often. . .but we just can’t. 🙁

Overall, she was good. I was pleased with her behavior. She did eye the other dogs while she had a ball but it didn’t get any farther than that. I told her ‘Don’t start’ and the owner moved their dog away. It’s so nice to be around other people who can read dogs. Ris is as easy to read as a book.

Even with that mostly successful day, we were still a long ways away from the more confident dog Risa is today. But it was a good start and was definitely a sign of things to come.

About Jamie

I'm just a traditionally-trained artist with interests in dog training. I currently teach classes at the local obedience training club (tricks, freestyle, and Rally-FrEe) and I also teach classes professionally for an organization who helps veterans train their own service dogs.
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