Feeling confident that Phase One had gone so well the day before, Sunday morning I decided to try again.  At the crack of dawn, Lizzie and I headed out to the park once again.  Lizzie was delighted when we arrived, and could hardly wait to get out of the truck.  Same drill, leash on as we get out of the truck, we headed to the trail.  Lizzie was so good, waiting for me to take the leash off.  As we walked the trail, she was more confident and took off running.  OK, I thought, she’ll come back.  I called her, and called her, and called her.  Really?  Right out of the gate you’re not coming back?  Nah, I shook it off and continued walking.  She came back, dashed past me and started back the other way.  Umm.. Lizzie?  I turned around and called her.  She stopped, head down, butt up, tail wagging.  She wanted to play and off she went.  She’s excited I thought, and happy.  I walk on my merry way watching the white spec in the distance slip further and further away.  Gulp.  She comes back and all my worries vanish.  We walk towards the rolling greens again and then it happens.  Something by the street catches her eye and off she goes, right towards the busiest street in town.  My heart sank and I go dashing after her.  I see her cross the street (thank God it’s early and no cars in sight) into a neighborhood.  I happen to know this particular street is a cul-de-sac so there won’t be any through traffic approaching.  It’s very early Sunday morning, most people are either sleeping or having morning coffee.  She’s out of sight in a neighborhood she’s never been in.  Keep calm, I tell myself and continue walking.  I see a jogger take the street and figure Lizzie will join her down the road.  Minutes later the jogger comes back and I ask her if she saw Lizzie.  She said yeah, just for a second but said the dog was too fast for her and took off.  I’m calling, calling, calling and I wonder how I must be ruining someone’s sleep or lazy Sunday morning with my distress calls.  At this point I can’t believe her behavior after such a successful day yesterday.  I feel defeated.  Just then, she comes back and I’m relieved.  Just before she reaches me (at bullet speed) she makes a hard right turn into someone’s yard and I panic knowing she will continue on at that speed into the next yard and the next until she comes to the very busy street. I make a decision to run back to my truck to try to find her.  Please God, don’t let her get hit by a car.  I’m running back to the park fumbling for my keys and just as I put the key in the lock I turn around and see her bounding after me.  I opened the door and she jumped in.  She knew I was upset and I just sat in the car with her trying to compose myself.  What to do, what to do… what kind of reinforcement is appropriate at this moment?  She is all over me, kissing me, nudging me.  She knew she did wrong.  I was so relieved she was back I found myself hugging and kissing her, telling her she was a good girl.  She came back.  I cringe at the thought of her crossing that busy street to get back to the truck, but that’s something we’ll have to work on.  She was asking me if we could stay and play.  I could almost hear her say “Please mommy, I promise I’ll be good.”  No, I took her home because she made bad choices today.  She knew she did wrong.  Small victory today, she came back.  However, there’s more work to be done here.

Lizzie gets spayed this week.  By the time she is healed, hunting season will be over and I’ll test her off the leash at the lake.   They’ll be new worries there as that is where she roamed wild for 5+ weeks.  Her old stomping grounds…

The bottom line is I will not have a dog that is not well-behaved.  I cannot have a dog that needs to be on the leash all the time.  I like to take my dog with me where ever I go and let them in and out at their leisure.  Of course, they’ll always be times when the leash is necessary, but for the most part, my dogs are trained to be friendly, approachable, loving… and obedient.  She has lots of dog friends and loves to play.  It consistent training and attention, but in the end, it is worth it.

It’s a symbiotic relationship.  Having an awesome life is Lizzie’s reward for being an awesome dog. Do good things, make good choices and I will provide you with a life that is better than most people have.  I’m committed and in for the long haul.  She’s figuring it out.  I think she’ll do just fine.  All in all, it was a good testing weekend for Lizzie, and for me.

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