It was a gorgeous weekend at the lake, seasonably crisp and sunny.  Lizzie was getting excited as we got closer to the lake house.  She knew where she was and couldn’t control herself.  This was her stomping grounds, where she was living off the land for so long.  This is where I caught her.  As I drove to the house, I decided this would be the weekend I test Lizzie off the leash at the lake.  I knew it could go either way, but I also knew it couldn’t wait any longer.  She was ready.

I brought her in the house when we arrived, where she immediately implemented her entry ritual of searching every room.  Then straight to the toy basket she goes, while I turn the house ‘on’.  Minutes after our arrival I decide to execute the plan by opening the back door and calling Lizzie out to go potty.  She stops at the door, questions me with a look and I coax her out by going on the deck with her and then down the few steps to the ground.  She’s unsure, but decides not to address it by bolting out of sight within seconds.  Gone!  I just look up, pray to my dad to guide her back, and go back in the house.  I try to distract myself by putting things away, opening blinds and putting all the toys back in the toy basket.  I look at the clock, I look out the windows, turn on the radio… nothing.  OK, OK, she’ll come back, don’t panic I tell myself.  A spec in the distance moves and I’m relieved to see her way off in the woods.  At least she’s around.  Then, just like at home, she bolts in the yard, too fast for anyone to catch her (not that I tried) and swooshes around me as if to say “I’m not ready to come in, but look mommy, I’m still around”.  I just give her a wave and mutter “good girl” as she quickly fades back into the deep woods.  Now I’m sure she’ll come back and gingerly go about my business in the house.  It was the longest 30 minutes of my life, but with two viewings in that timeframe, I never doubted she’d be back.  While she was gone, I planned her return.  I had brought up something she’s never had with me, something I wanted her to remember as a treat for coming back to the lake house, bacon!  I cooked the bacon while she was on the run, knowing all to well that she could smell it.  By the time she came back the bacon was cooked, cooled and degreased, just waiting for her.  She came in, all smiles and panting, following the smell of bacon.  I could tell she was unsure of the reception she would get for taking off.  I believe in positive reinforcement.  I hugged her, told her repeatedly she was a good girl and gave her several small bits of a piece of bacon.  She loved it!  After that, the rest as they say, is history.  Lizzie was in and out a hundred times throughout the weekend, running all over but never stayed away that long or that far again.  She played with other dogs, came when she was called and really seemed to figure it all out. 

Now I need to work on her jumping on the couch… and the bed:

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