Saturday, December 1, 2012

Rainy, Messy Days

It's rainy season in Sacramento. Sometimes there is a break between the storms, like this morning, so Chou Chou can go walking, but other times it pours and neither of us wants to be outside. Then it's like being cooped up with a toddler. 
The ground is very wet and muddy. I took her to the schoolyard the other night to play with her friend Toffee. It was dark, but the dogs had a great time running in the muddy field. When we got home, I washed her feet outside. That was easy. But it wasn't easy pulling the sticks, berries and wet leaves out of her long coat! 

Toffee is a chocolate lab, so his coat doesn't collect debris; my girl is high maintenance. ("Love to play with Toffee in the mud!")

This evening Chou Chou and I played in the front yard. We live near a park and people walk their dogs in front of our iron fence on their way to the park. When people walk by, Chou Chou is interested and follows them along the fence, which makes them laugh. But when people with dogs walk by, she barks at their dogs. It's partly her guarding instinct, but mostly, she wants to play with them. She gets into her puppy bow, an invitation to play, but her bark scares people who don't understand her body language. 

To stop the behavior, when dogs walk by, I redirect her attention. I keep her on a short drop leash; when I see a dog coming, I grab the leash and redirect her to a treat. Then she doesn't bark and lets the dog and person pass. But today, because the yard was muddy, I didn't put on the drop leash. I saw a dog coming and tried to grab her to treat her, but I was too slow. 

She started barking at the other dog, who was startled and began his own barking and pulling his owner. The poor woman slipped on wet leaves on the sidewalk and fell when her dog tugged too hard, having a fight across the wrought iron fence with Chou. ("No, no! I was in puppy bow. I was inviting him to play.")

The woman picked herself up and got control of her dog as I caught Chou; she quickly walked on. I asked if she was okay, and she said yes, over her shoulder, but she was mad. It wasn't good. I took Chou inside. ("It wasn't my fault! I went inside, but I am sulky.") 

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