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Still Don't Have my Sea Legs



Yesterday was Thursday, which, as many people know, is one of the days that I take Monster to the office. I guess spring was in the air, or he is entering his "teen-ager" stage at 5.5 months old now, or both. Anyhow, he didn't settle into his normal work attitude, preferring to coax me into taking him outside more often than our every 2 hour schedule and playing "fetch the stick." OK, fine. I sent him home with Sam at lunch time. No point in getting us both wound up and frustrated.


He was all wiggles and excitement when I got home yesterday afternoon, but settled into the typical evening routine. That is, until about 7 pm. Then he staged a "mad puppy hour" by running all over the apartment, out into the garden and back again, like he was practicing for next year's Kentuckey Derby. Sam and I looked at eachother and said "we need to take him to the park now!" Well, apparently he has learned the word park because once we said it, he was all jumps in the air and barks. It took a few minutes to get him settled down enough to get a lead on him. But, lead on, we were out to the suv and off to the park.


One of his favorite playmates and her doggy momma were just leaving when we arrived. As soon as Monster and Max saw eachother, they were trying to run and play, before either could be let off their lead. So Max got to stay a while longer and play with Monster. All the dogs seemed a little more hyper than normal, as we could tell by Smoochie wanting to get into the frey. She is a 12 year old lab mix who typically contents herself to sitting and watching the younger dogs. Last night, however, was a different story.


Well, the craziness insued harmlessly for about an hour of so. Then it sort of went a little off. Monster was clipped and rolled by one of the dogs in the pack as they raced around. He went onto his back, as normal. But unlike normal, there were suddenly 5 dogs with noses in his soft, exposed underbelly. Mon decided that was his cue to separate, so he wiggled free and ran to the other side of the field, to the water fountain. But the pack mentality had already set in and 2 males, one pit and one shepard, got into it. These things happen from time to time when the dogs get too crazy. Usually it is stopped by a couple of harsh words from both doggy parents. However, the shepard in question does not listen well to his doggy momma - who never really asserts herself as pack leader to her dog. The squabble didn't stop. So everyone BUT the shepard's human jumped in to keep other dogs out of the arguement and to separate the 2 who were snarling. The pit out and on his lead, the shepard went after a boarder collie. Still no intervention from the shepard's momma. Sam jumped in and grabbed the shepard, while the collie's daddy tried to get him up and out of harm's way. Unfortunately, the shepard broke free and the collie's daddy missed him. Those two were a tangle again. So finally, when the collie's daddy was able to get the shepard by the collar, and then get his collie up onto his shoulder, the shepard's momma decided she needed to step in. Sam had grabbed the shepard's collar agaion to keep him from jumping at the collie's daddy. The fight was now over, but all doggie parents were keeping close eye on their animals, to make sure they all settled down. Monster was as far away from the situation as he could get, exploring the fence on the other side of the field. I told Sam that Monster didn't have an angry bone in his body.


Well, things settled down and after about 15 minutes or so, even Monster was back in the fold of the pack. The pit momma had separated hers from the group, and the collie daddy had gotten onto the shepard momma's case about not controlling her animal - rightfully so. Embarrassed and upset, the shepard momma took her dog and left. There were no more group chases the rest of tehnight. The dogs seemed content to break off into pairs or trios to play.


Monster hooked up with a couple of the younger dogs. He seems to feel safer with dogs his age or a little younger. But he can also be a little overbearing to younger dogs. He likes to play hard. He was pining a 3-month-old shepard pup. The pup yelped and that was my cue to step in. I called Mon and he chose to ignore me. Big mistake. I grabbed his collar and droped him to the ground, holding him there until he calmed down. I don't stand for being ignored, and I don't care if I come up bruised in the process of showing a dog who is the pack leader. Well, when I let Mon up, he went straight back to the shepard pup and started in again. So I grabbed him again and told him to sit. He wouldn't. So I pressed on his butt and repeated the command. This time, he sat. I told him to stay. He wouldn't. So I repeated the process until I got his cooperation and he gave me a good, solid stay while I walked 20 feet away. Then I gave him the release command and told him he could go play. No problems from him for another good half hour.


It was dark by the time we left. We got home, got everyone fed, then did the bath ritual with Monster. He doesn't love baths, but he'll tolerate them. HE much rather just play in the bath tub, or any pooled water, for that matter.


The whole point of last night, as my title would imply, is that I have discovered that I haven't quite gotten my "land legs" back. When we got to the park, I didn't use my cane. I walked by myself. I did ok across the asphault of the parking lot, and the concrete of the staging area outside of the dog park field. I was a little wobbly on the grass of the field. On the sand traps, well, that was another story. I also wasn't to good after periods of time. However, when I needed to deal with an animal, well, balance be darned. I was going to make sure my animal stayed controlled. Part of taking Monster to the ground was my wanting to impress upon him that I was the leader, part was that I fell. The dog didn't know that, and I don't think any of the other humans did either, with the exception of Sam - who knew right away.


At least I know that, with a little help, if I need to, I can handle training a dog, even when they don't want to listen. I'm really starting to feel confident that I can do what I plan to do in my retirement.


I guess, next time, I'll remember my cane, for now.

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Lydia, sounds to me like you were right on the case, but I am glad to hear Sam was with you. Biggest issue will be if you get over tired because chances are, Monster will not. I am so pleased to hear of your good outcome and your personal ability to handle it. You are both still learning. Good job, Debbie

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