Friday, October 22, 2010

Trixie's Great Escape

Trixie's Great Escape:  Long, Rambly Version
(For Short Version, see below.)

One day (sometime this month), the gorgeous fall weather inspired me to take Trixie on a walk down toward the pond.   I hooked the retractable leash onto her collar, and we were on our way.  She wasn't particularly keen on walking, but then she never has cared for walks as much as you'd expect her to, given how enthusiastic she is about fetching, catching frisbees, and generally putting everything she's got into her playtime.  Still, we managed to plod along.  (Until...)

We came to about the mid-point of my parents' clearing (heading from our yard to the pond).  Their dogs (Mandy and Kolby, both Shelties) hadn't seen, heard, or smelled us-- and they never did, despite the fuss to come (probably because it was a windy day, with a northern wind carrying our scent and sound away from them)-- but Trixie was acutely aware of their unseen presence (in their temporary pen adjoining the new house).  She stared straight toward the pen, nose twitching.

I tried to be understanding.  I gave her some time to take in the new smells and then, when I'd concluded that she had become rooted to the spot, I gently pulled the leash to suggest that we continue.  No ma'am, she was having none of that.  There were (ohmygosh) other animals around here!  It wasn't safe!  She'd much rather go back home right now, thankyouverymuch!  Words of encouragement-- another little tug on the leash-- but no, still not interested.  In fact, she went so far as to pull back, and with almost no effort at all, she'd wriggled right out of her collar!  (That's taught me a lesson about leaving collars too loose!)

There was a split second before Trixie realized that she was free (free at last!), and then she turned and was off!  I spoke her name as calmly as I could manage-- I called more urgently-- I said the magic word, "Treat!  Treat!  Treat??"-- all to no avail (and I had treats with me, which Little Miss Super-Sniffer must've known).  I called after her, hoping to convince her that I'd seen how wrong I was to suggest she go on a walk, "Want to go inside?  Want to go see Molly?"  Nope, she wouldn't even afford me a backward glance.  Meanwhile, I was chasing after her, dragging my invisible-dog-style leash and empty collar along behind me.  I knew I'd never catch up to her if she didn't want me to, and I tried not to think what might happen if she took it into her crazy little head to run up to the road-- or even out on the easement, if a neighbor happened to be driving by-- but it looked like she was homeward bound.

There was a little while when she was out of view (because of the zig-zaggy nature of our path back)-- but when I got closer I was relieved to see her standing at the gate, waiting to be let in.  Whew!  Taking care not to spook her with sudden "I'm going to put this leash back on you"-type movements, I spoke more soothing, magical Trixie-words ("Want to go inside?  Want to see Molly?  Inside?  Molly?  Treat?"), opened the gate, and breathed even more easily when she walked right in, just as though this were our accustomed arrangement.  "There now, Michael, was that so hard?  Next time just do what I want and all will be well." 

Good grief!  That dog really doesn't like walks!  At least she ran back home straight as an arrow!

Following the old "get right back into the saddle" method, Donald and I put the harness on her and took her and Molly on a walk almost immediately afterward.  She didn't like the harness at first (tending to spin around, flop onto her side and stay perfectly still as soon as she felt any pull from the leash), but after a while-- with Molly's encouraging presence-- she decided it was livable.  Still, she's a little hesitant going out and pulls on the leash when she senses that we've turned homeward.  I think she may be more of a homebody recluse than I am... which is odd, given how playful and exuberant she is and how much she seems to enjoy meeting new people.

Trixie's Great Escape:  Short Version

I tried and failed to walk Trixie. That dog doesn't like walks.  Fortunately, she does like Home, and that's where she ran when she got away from me. Further walking training is needed.  Or...we could just not do walks, as she gets plenty of exercise from frisbee-fetching.  We'll see.