Monday, 3 August 2015

Training Day 4: In Which We Discover Why Smelling Like A Swamp Means Everything is Awesome

So I just have to share this photo first:

This photo sums up Training Day 4: Gatsby got filthy, we had an awesome time, and I have absolutely no regrets!

The long version? Well, let me see.

Our plan for this session had been for me to take Gatsby to the park alone. This was because K had discovered that after her brother started taking Gatsby to the park by himself, Gatsby actually started noticing and even getting excited when he arrived home. So I was going to do the same. But since I didn't yet remember where the park was, Gatsby and I ended up walking directly behind K and her friend to the park.

When we arrived, the fenced dog area was completely empty! Perfect. I took Gatsby inside and K and her friend went to a tree at the edge of the park to meditate.

I bet you can guess what happened next, right?

What I could see was K and her friend at some distance settled down on a mat opposite each other, talking.

What Gatsby could see was that she was on this side of the fence, and K was on the other side, walking away!
She always reminds me of Lightning of The OP Pack in this photo

What I could hear was Gatsby barking and whining.

What I could feel was her pulling at the leash, wanting to go to K.

I admit at this point I felt frustrated again.*

Great. What can I do if my friend is so disorganised that we can't stick to the original plan of my taking her out of the boring house to the fun park by myself? Instead, all Gatsby thinks is that K's taken her out and abandoned her!

Fortunately - in a manner of speaking - Gatsby's barking got loud enough that K heard her, looked up, saw Gatsby still on the end of the leash, and called, Has she been there the whole time?

I replied in the affirmative.
Should we go out of sight?
I replied, fervently, in the affirmative.
To her credit, K did so immediately, calling, Sorry! I should have realised!

Once K was out of eyeline Gatsby listened to me so I could unleash her, take a deep breath and focus on the task at hand.

There was a bit of wondering what her human was up to while she was here...

... but to my joy it soon turned into running and jumping...

And, of course, taking advantage of all the delights the dog park has to offer.

I had relaxed my eagle-eye watch a little on the usually fearful Gatsby as she was so calm, either ignoring or showing only polite interest in the other dogs that arrived. Not to mention the toddler whose mum had cleverly placed into the double gate area, allowing kiddo to enjoy her outdoor playpen while her elderly little shih tzu mix sniffed and wandered the grass. Gatsby usually barks ferociously at toddlers, but this time was completely unfazed, standing quietly on her side of the fence. So when I turned around from chatting with the mum (who we'd met last time when we discovered the park) to find Gatsby enjoying the giant mud puddle leftover from a weekend of rain, I laughed and let her be.

She only showed her teeth once, late in the afternoon when playfully cornered by three or four dogs led by a staffy puppy (think: boisterous and all puppy), which reminded me that I'd been there for a couple hours and Gatsby must be tired! So I called her to me (she came), asked her for a few tricks so I could reward her, leashed her up and took her home.

I was so pleased and proud of Gatsby, and told her so as we walked back. She walked back totally differently from before - with the leash loose, not charging ahead. I don't know if it was because she was tired rather than rearing to get to the park, or whether it was because K wasn't there for her to constantly chase to make sure she didn't leave her.

But I was made even happier by the fact that I managed to towel and brush her down with her completely relaxed and enjoying it - I guess I finally get why people say if your pet enjoys being brushed it can be a bonding experience.

I guess it also helps if your dog can turn white again with one brush

And like I told K, today I really did like Gatsby - when she could enjoy life and was willing to learn, she was easy to like. So even though I'm told Gatsby still smells like a swamp, I don't care one little bit.

* (After the frustrating session on Day 2, I had written a long and thorough email entitled 'Time to get hard-arse!' to K explaining that I liked her but not necessarily her dog, because Gatsby's bad behaviour got in the way of my getting to know the good parts of her personality. And that if K wanted others to appreciate her dog and her company while with her heart dog, she would have to work with me and most importantly, Gatsby! K thought the email was insightful and agreed.)


  1. Nothing like a good mud puddle to make everything right in the world for a dog! Sounds like you aere doing all the right things.

    1. Thanks so much Kirsten! I have to say, when I see a dog roll oh-so-blissfully in the grass, for that one moment, everything is right in the world for me too.

  2. We agree! Sometimes you just gotta roll with it and be smelly. Keep up the good work.

    1. Hehe! I'm imagining 6 muddy dogs now... and I thought one was enough!

  3. Awesome day indeed,well done,xx Rachel and Speedy

    1. Thanks very much! Amazing how quickly things can turn around, isn't it?

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