I’m trying a new thing where you get a prompt for each Friday and write for 5 mins without editing it. I’m surprised at how much I make sense. The prompt was ‘celebrate’ and I focused on my depression. It has been a berk recently.
I want to celebrate the progress our youngest dog has made over the past few weeks when it comes to walking. Doug is just over a year old and we adopted him from a cousin at eight months or so. By then he had already engrained in some habits in regards to pulling on his lead. He had grown up on an extendable lead which we do not use as we feel it does not let us have enough control. It also means that if the dog, for example, was spooked and ran into the road it would be far harder to get him out of harm’s way. Even the best behaved dogs get scared sometimes so that is why I like shorter leads. Training Doug to not pull and to not growl and bark at other people has been difficult and a variety of tactics have been used. At first walking him with Nico was good because Nico walks really well on a loose lead behind me most of the time. It gave Doug an example to follow. But his fear is a real issue. Senna has got over her fear but when she was younger she would hide behind Nico, the older and bigger dog. Doug would get aggressive and defensive.
My depression tried very hard to blame me ever time Doug reacted in a way we did not want him to. I wasn’t doing enough. I wasn’t good enough. I was stupid. I was a failure. There were days I did not want to take him out at all or even Nico because my brain said he would pick up on my lack dark feelings and start acting up. He didn’t. Once Nico is out the door he is perfect. (Getting him out is a work in progress.)
I kept trying though. Somehow I won the battle of wills with myself. At first he’d walk nice in patches. Man, it could take half an hour to get round a block if we stopped every time Doug pulled until he relaxed on the lead again. Then he started walking well after he had pooped. This was all of course dependant on there being no one or nothing around. We reassured him every time we saw someone, got down on his level if needed and spoke to him.
So this Friday I’m celebrating the fact that yesterday I took Doug to the vet (he’s fighting a really bad ear infection) when the schools were coming out and it was super busy with moronic children walking backwards (wtf) and screaming and whatever. There were buggies and small kids who jumped out at him. There were other dogs around too.
He was brilliant.
He just walked, without pulling, and only growled once when a small child reached out and tried to grab him only to be grabbed by their guardian at the last minute. It was not an aggressive growl either, more the understandable ‘what the fuck?’ sort of one.
He is not perfect and this afternoon he pulled a bit again but he can do it! He’s learning! We can do it! So bugger you depression, Doug and I got this! Or will get this….eventually.