Tag Archives: dog walk

Close Encounters of the Fourth Kind

Little Monkey

I have written a few posts about encounters with difficult dogs that Little Monkey and I have met on our walks around the neighbourhood. This is a different sort of encounter that happened recently:

A Close Encounter of the Fourth Kind!*

Little Monkey and I had been walking for a while and were heading back home. We needed to cross a road, on the other side of which live the YLD’s. These are Yappy Little Dogs; three brown Dachshunds that never fail to charge to their gate, yapping like mad, when anything passes by. One got out once and attacked LM, which must have been funny to witness; me batting away the tiny thing with my cap, while keeping LM, ten times its size, behind me. Eventually the owner came out, apologised and picked up the terror.

I’m just telling you this to explain why I was crossing the road to one side to avoid them. This particular day I could see the kids getting their bikes ready behind the gate, so I knew it would soon open and the whole lot would pile out, yapping like mad. (Though I don’t think the kids were yapping!)

LM and I successfully crossed the road and I was congratulating myself on getting away before the gate opened, when BBD suddenly appeared walking at a smart pace round the corner. BBD is Big Black Dog.

This is a rescue dog that the owner has worked well with. BBD is a lot bigger than LM and always barks when we pass his property.

I needed space!

Little Monkey freaks out at sudden confrontations, but I managed to grab her mid-air as she leapt upwards, and turned her around. There was nowhere for us to go, as we were stuck between the BBD, the YLDs and the road. I quickly got to the very edge of the road and sat LM down with her back to BBD and YLDs, and held on to LM’s ear.

BBD marched briskly by behind us and didn’t give LM a second glance. This was great and LM remained seated by my side. As BBD reached the YLDs the noise escalated to ear-splitting levels!

Phew I thought. We did it.

We had no sooner turned round to resume our walk towards the corner when MBD suddenly appeared. Medium Black Dog was bigger than LM and rather like a poodle, but without the funny haircut!  This dog and owner I had not seen before.

LM did her leap in the air again and MBD also did a bit of a surprised ‘double take’. As I backed away I now had to find space between MBD, BBD, YLDs and the road!

As BBD strode on past YLDs gate I could back up that way a bit. As I did so I chatted to MBD’s owner, which always helps calm everything down. I ran off my spiel; “Sorry my dog’s a rescue dog and she’s just scared. She’s not aggressive at all. The little yappy dogs are actually more of a problem.” etc

And she totally agreed, saying she didn’t trust the YLDs as they charged at you and bit your ankles! So we chatted a little, and MBD and LM were cool.

Finally LM and I continued on our walk and actually made it round the corner without meeting any more dogs.

.

This has taken a while to write, but the whole incident took place in seconds. The dogs performed a kind of do-si-do dance on the little triangle of grass verge, mostly with LM and I dodging close proximities!

But here’s the great thing: that was an encounter with four different dogs (I count the three tiny Dachshunds as one dog!) and there was no growling or biting. That is a good day.

The worst behaved dogs were the YLDs. Next was LM and her anxiety. MBD was OK and BBD just walked through the whole thing ignoring us.

So you can have unexpected encounters with strange dogs all thrown together and not have any aggression.

Close Encounters of the Fourth Kind!*

 

* Not to be confused with the 1977 movie: Close Encounters of the Third Kind!

 

The Monkey, the Spaghetti and the Mop

Peas in a Pod – SL and LM

Last week, as I was about to open the security gate and leave my property to walk my dogs, two homeless guys passed right in front of the gate. I hung back a bit and waited, as I recognised the one guy, and last time I’d seen him he’d had a medium sized dog with him. Sure enough, a few seconds later the happy little dog, with its long shaggy black coat, went trotting past. This floor Mop is just walking in the zone, and the most balanced dog I have ever seen; and that includes all the hundreds of dogs I’ve come across at dog class over the last eight and a half years.

Why did I hang back? Little Monkey is unbalanced and anxious and needs lots of time and space to deal with any dog she suddenly comes across; especially if they are passing “her” property! (Her previous amazing encounter with this black floor Mop can be found in my post Curiouser )

So, now we could go. When I am tired, and it is about to pour down, I take my dogs on a short walk round the block. It’s less than a kilometre, but at least they have been out. And actually, with Mr SL, it takes us a good 25 minutes anyway, at his top speed of zimmer frame!

We were nearly half way round the block, having done one short side and most of a long side, when I noticed LM had spotted something. Down at the corner of the street was the black floor Mop. It was sniffing the grass, then started running our way, right up the middle of the road.

LM goes into superfreak state. Over the years I have learnt how to deal with most situations. Now, I could see that this homeless dog was only intent on finding its owners, and not bothered about us at all. Mr SL was not reacting either. Just LM. She  was super alert, ears up, eyes locked on the Mop. Then she leapt into the air. This is when I grab her by the scruff of the neck on either side of her throat. Now she is standing on her hind legs (and she is quite tall since she has a long body) and I have her by the neck. But she is now calm – or as calm as she is ever going to get.

(It is hilarious when I have to do this in a narrow alley way, when other people and dogs insist on passing by us in that confined space. I’m like, “Hi, how are you?” They are like, “You’re weird!” And LM is like, “Look at me! I’m standing on my hind legs!” and “DOG!DOG!DOG!”)

Well, there is a car on the other side of the road, but it has stopped, and Mop runs up the road a little, then turns and runs back down and disappears round the corner. The driver in the car asks me if it is my dog. I explain, nope, but LM is anxious and scared and I have to keep my distance from Mop. I also tell her that I saw Mop with its owners a few minutes ago going past my house, so it does have an owner. I just tell you this exchange, because I live in a very nice area, where people will rescue dogs found wandering round the street and take them to their vets, or animal rescue organisation, if they have no collar and disc with phone number on them. (Also, just a day or two previously, another woman stopped her car by me and my dogs to tell me there was a border collie running loose in the road around the corner. I thanked her profusely and turned and went the other way!)

So, OK, we can proceed on our walk. The coast is clear. A few minutes later we are round the corner and about to do the short side of the rectangle, when again I spot Mop at the next corner, sniffing the grass and trying to pick up its owner’s scent. Then it runs off in the direction I was going to go – up the long side of the rectangle.

Sigh!

If I only had Mr SL I could walk where I pleased. Although he is a dominant male, he listens to me, and he will leave another dog alone, if it leaves him alone – which is all I ask for. Well I stood there for a moment, thinking. Then I decided to go back the way we had just come, and so avoid Mop. These are things I have to do with LM, and that is just the way it is.

So we turn round and retrace our steps, but I cross the road so the dogs at least have something different to sniff. Mr SL really doesn’t want to turn round, and drags for a while. He thinks we are going the wrong way, and he just wants to get home and have his supper!! We are a third of the way back up the road, when poor Mop appears again! It is running right up the middle of the street again, but this time keeps on going. I manage to control LM without the whole leap in the air thing, by grabbing her ear, but she is OK. Mop is past her in no time, and clearly not interested in her at all.

I watch as Mop runs away up the road, and find myself holding my breath that he will turn down my road, and in the direction of his owners. Yes, he does! Yay. I am sure he will find them now – and if not, like I said above, someone will take him in.

And I am amazed at his tracking skills! It was a good 15 minutes by now since he and his owners had gone that way, yet he had picked up the scent. Dogs truly are amazing. Even LM and Mr SL!

post script: If you think that “The Monkey, the Spaghetti and the Mop” does not have quite the snap to it that “The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe” has; mine is in the real world! 

The Adventures of Sparky the Squirrel: Part One

Sparky the Squirrel

Sparky the Squirrel

Grey squirrels abound in my area; and they are all called Sparky! Some days they all come out to play at once; which makes walking the dogs very exciting!

One warm day, I was waiting to cross the road at a T-junction. My dogs were sitting at the kerb as usual, and we watched as a car approached the stop sign. Suddenly, to our amazement and out of nowhere, a little grey thing dropped out of the sky, flashed right in front of our eyes and landed with a thump and a “squeak” on the road at our feet. Even the dogs were too astounded to move.

The little squirrel prised itself off the tarmac, shook its head and scampered off across the road to the safety of some bushes. I’ve no idea what happened. There was only one very tall forty foot tree next to us and nowhere for it to jump to. I can only assume it somehow lost its footing.

The driver rolled down his window as he drove past, and called out to me, “Did you see that?”

Me: “Yes! I can’t believe it survived.”

We were both laughing at the surprise of it all.

Never a dull moment with Sparky. But until this incident, I didn’t know they could bounce!

 

Leap of Faith

Little Monkey

Little Monkey

After my two old dogs both died, three weeks apart, I had Little Monkey on her own for a year. It took that long to find a dog of suitable energy to match my poor anxious, unsocialised, unbalanced dog. She chose Mr Spaghetti Legs. He is good enough to put up with most of her nonsense, most of the time, by calmly ignoring it.

So, before he came on the scene, Little Monkey went on lots of walks alone with me. A favourite place, on a sunny day, are the walks along by a river on the green belt. You can meet lots of other dogs there, but mostly they are very well behaved, so it is a good place for LM to go. Also there is plenty of space to pass by other dogs, so she doesn’t have to get too close.

This particular afternoon I had decided to walk on a less-frequented pathway. Once we were away from the road, and there were no dogs approaching, I sat her down, took her lead off and did a long 20 metre stay. When I call her to me, she must come straight to me and sit down; then I know she is listening, If she doesn’t, we do it all over again.

Once she is listening, I pat her twice on the side and say “OK”. And off she runs. Here, there and everywhere, looking for squirrels, or anything interesting. I don’t worry if she is far away, because I know she will always come back. Also, even if I can’t see her, I can usually hear her, crashing through the undergrowth in gay abandon.

We were both having a lovely time, going our own separate ways, just enjoying the birdsong in the trees, and the sun on our backs. After a while I stopped and looked for LM. My path had risen slightly, and I could see out to the right, across an open expanse of grass in a large dip, ending a good 20 metres away in a stone retaining wall, about 2 metres high. Hmm, no sign of LM.

Suddenly, she appeared at the top of the retaining wall. She stood for a moment, like the Monarch of the Glen. Magnificent, strong, healthy, happy dog.

OK, I thought, I’ll just wait for her. She’ll have to go back and round to where the wall is low and she can access the green field part and so reach me.

There was a second when we both looked at each other. Me, waiting for her to go back and round; her – who knows what was going through her head.

Then she jumped. Two metres straight down. Just leaped into space, all four feet out.

She landed with a heavy thump as her legs gave way beneath her and her chest hit the ground.

I’m thinking: “She’s definitely broken a leg. Cannot possibly fall that far and not break something. But it’ll be OK, cos I can carry her. She only weighs 23kg. I can carry her back to the car, if I stop and rest along the way.”

In the second it took me to think the above, she toppled sideways at ninety degrees to the direction of motion.

Now I’m thinking: “She’s broken a leg, and twisted everything. So we’ve got dislocated joints too.”

So here is an action replay. Dog leaps into mid air. Falls flat on chest, crumpling legs underneath. Flops sideways, snapping legs off at joint.

I am still telling myself, it’ll be OK. I’ll carry her to the car – somehow, when up she pops! Starts running down the grassy dip, back up again, and now starts looking for a way to climb the one metre wall that I am standing behind.

“Go round!” I tell her, waving my arm.

She backs up a bit and finds a broken section of the wall, a little lower. It is a stone wall with a 40cm flat top. She leaps at this and gets her front paws on, and hangs there for a moment, claws scraping on the stone as she slowly slips backwards! She tries again, and makes it this time. Runs up to me, all happy, tail wagging, tongue lolling.

I hug my silly, adorable, unbreakable dog!

No-one was around. No-one saw this amazing feat that rivalled anything Lassie ever did! I did not have a camera or phone to record any of it. Just another day in the life of Little Monkey!

 

Negotiating the Neutral Zone: A Visit to the Vets

Taking my young dog to the vets is always exhausting. She gets so hyped up. Maybe it is simply because she is an unbalanced, unsocialised, anxious dog? Maybe it is because all her senses are firing at once? New smells, sounds, sights?

Well, this time there was certainly a new sight for her! As I was giving my name to the receptionist, a little ginger cat sauntered round the corner from the back area. I am sure it is the same cat that taunted Mr Spaghetti Legs. (Mr SL and the cat) It basically stuck its tongue out at my dog, who was beside herself. She hates cats. She has to bark at them, chase them up trees etc. Now here she was, on full alert, ears up, body tense, all eyes on the cat, but restrained by the lead, knowing that there is an unwritten law, that when she is on the lead she is not allowed to chase things. Poor girl. Although I explained to her that the vets was a neutral zone I don’t think it helped!

I then weighed my dogs and sat down until it was our turn for the vet. At least now the cat was out of sight, but Little Monkey cannot relax. She stood there, panting madly, tugging at the lead now and then as if to say, “The door’s this way, Mum. Let’s go!” I bring Mr SL also, as he just stands there, quite calm; hoping some of his nonchalance may rub off on her.

Our turn came quickly. Just an anal gland check up; all OK. Now for the reward. I always take them for a walk in the local forested area afterwards. Once parked in the car park, I filled an old ice cream tub with fresh water, and Little Monkey gulped it down. All that panting has gotta make for a dry mouth. Mr SL sniffs it, but rarely drinks.

In no time at all we are in nature. Tall pine trees all around, little grey squirrels scuttling up trees, lots of bird song. Little Monkey has forgotten all about the vets in one minute flat. Unfortunately, it has rained lately – a lot – and the narrow paths have become streams. Little Monkey walks slightly ahead, with Mr SL behind. I hear his little feet going splish splish splish. Suddenly, this changes to splosh splosh splosh!

The old boy has walked off the path and into a ditch. He is now wading through water up to his armpits! I get him back onto the path. Now we pass the little pond, that has become a small lake! Peering closely into the water, I see tiny tadpoles wriggling around in the icy water. A good sign. Once frogs disappear from your habitat, nature is in grave difficulties.

So, we spoldge around for a while, then go home. The dogs get their supper and can sleep off the excitement of the afternoon. Well, Mr SL sleeps; Little Monkey is ready for the next game. Happy dogs!

 

Don’t Make Me Laugh!

Peas in a Pod - SL and LM

Peas in a Pod – SL and LM

Two incidents happened the other day, both of which made me laugh at my mutts.

First incident: I had walked Little Monkey and Mr Spaghetti Legs to the soccer field. There we found a large golden retriever frolicking about on the middle of the field, with a kid running around after it. Mr SL just began sniffing around, but LM was alert, with all eyes on the retriever. Then the retriever saw my dogs and ran straight for us. Luckily, the kid managed to call it back, and then he ran with it across the field and away from us.

Phew. Close call. So then I do what I normally do: sit LM down, take her lead off, tell her to stay, and walk away with Mr SL. A good 15 metres further on I sit Mr SL down, and repeat the process, walking away another 5 metres.

(Why does MR SL get to do a shorter stay? Because I’ve only had him 9 months, he just wants to follow me and it is very hard for him to stay even this short distance. LM on the other hand, whom I’ve had for 7 1/2 years, will happily do stays the length of the soccer pitch, thrives with structure in her life, and loves to run to me.)

Then I crouch down, and Mr SL comes to me. LM waits till I call her. Why do I do this? It ensures she is watching and listening, and will come to me, and not run across the nearby road chasing squirrels.

So now I call LM. She usually runs to me and sits in front of me. Gets a ‘release’ pat and then we carry on with the walk, off-lead. This time, she starts her run towards me and I notice at once that she is veering off to my right. I step that way to try to block her, but she is in full flight now. She hares right past me. I turn round and see with horror, that a guy has just come on to the field behind me, with 2 dogs on lead. He spots my dog chasing full speed towards him (LM can really move!!) and quickly takes his dogs off the lead.

As I know will happen, my girl runs straight at his dogs and when about 5 metres away charges them with “wuffwuffwuff!” then simply carries on running right past them, keeping that distance of a good 5 metres. His poor dogs watch LM’s antics in bewilderment. This is not normal dog behaviour. Sorry guys – but LM is anything but normal!

I have no choice but to follow my dog, calling out as I go, in my well-practiced chant, “Sorry, she’s an idiot, but she’s harmless,” and smiling in a friendly manner to the poor guy, who has just had quite a shock!

He realises by now, that it is OK. His dogs go and have a sniff at Mr SL, and LM comes back to me, keeping her distance from the strange dogs, but there is no problem now. We can carry on our walk. And I laugh, since I was the twit who did not look behind me, again, before releasing LM. After all, I know she is harmless, but strangers do not.

Second incident: I’d taken the dogs out with me into the front garden to fetch the post and newspaper. As I turned round from the letter box, Mr SL was standing by the garage door. There was a frozen moment when we both looked at each other, then had exactly the same thought, at the same time – “I’ve got to get to the house first!”

I wanted to get there first so I could shut the old boy outside while I prepared their supper, because he leaks everywhere. And he wanted to get there first, because he didn’t want to be shut outside!

It was hilarious. He had a good 5 metre start, and you should have seen his little legs flying all over the place as he beetled down the path, effectively blocking me from overtaking him. At the last moment I made it past him, and quickly turned and shut the security gate. Little thing; he doesn’t need to speak, it was obvious what he was thinking.

Don’t feel too sorry for him, as a few minutes later he was happily munching a big bowl of yummy food.