It’s always a juggling act when you live with three dogs to balance the one-on-one time with them. Some days, two of them end up staying behind. And, for that first scurrying around-hurry-up-and-get-ready-to-get Out The Door, there is some unhappiness.
Like yesterday. When my now 25 year old son, announced that he was going to take Jasper for a walk.
Because in all of his 25 years, he has NEVER walked Jasper By Himself. Except for one time when he was a lot younger and when Jasper was a lot younger too.
My kid wasn’t physically strong enough (then) to handle Jasper’s “Great Dane size” or zest for living. And, that walk got a bit out of hand.
But, my son has been volunteering at our local animal shelter as a dog walker one afternoon out of the week for almost four months now. Other volunteers and staff were impressed with the fact that this kid grew up with dogs, especially BIG dogs, and after his “Orientation to Walking Shelter Dogs,” he got to walk the BIG shelter dogs.
Which he liked doing.
Mind you. None of those shelter dogs weigh anywhere near the 160 pounds that Jasper weighs. But, in the past year, the arthritis in Jasper’s back leg has slowed him down a bit.
We’ve been discovering that shorter walks are better for Jasper these days than long hikes. And, maybe it was time for me to step back and Just Let This Walk Happen.
Part of the dog-walking deal was that he get Jasper into the “Easy Walk” harness that we picked up for Jasper over a year ago. It takes a bit of doing if you’re not used to how it is supposed to correctly fit a dog.
And, he had to be Comfortable With And Willing to Pick Up … poop.
The hardest part of orchestrating getting Out Of The House with one dog is dealing with the two that are going to be Left Behind. It helps that one human was also being Left Behind. But, there was that small Expression of Unhappiness.
Josephine – my amazing 14 year old whippet – was the first to settle down once my son and Jasper had gotten out the front door.
Tessa, however, had a fit. She flew upstairs to jump onto my bed which gave her the best view of the street. And, she watched as part of her pack moseyed out of sight.
She found other second floor windows to peer out of until they Came Back.
At which point, my son announced that he was going to take Josephine out for a walk. Wisely interpreting Tessa’s “Take Me! Take Me!” behavior, I pulled back from my writing to get her ready to go too.
Getting Tessa ready to go out is a more elaborate procedure than getting either of the other two dogs ready to go out.
Because Tessa is Still Learning About Focus and How to Gather Her Energy Into a Calm Center. Wonder if I can find a yoga class for her?
Before we go Out the Door, the anxiety wrap we bought for Tessa shortly after bringing her home, is slipped over her body. She gets a healthy spray of calming aromatherapy oils and I make sure she can see me put a plastic bag of mouth-watering treats into my pocket.
And, we are “working it” as soon as we step outside. A moment to find that inner calm. Mine. A moment to remind Tessa that she and I are joined at the hip and will Focus On Each Other – and – we’re off.
She is, at this moment in time, more dog to handle than Jasper and Josephine combined. Her energy is powerful and aware — and completely on overdrive. Like a kid on a sugar high.
But. We’re getting better at Focus. Which we work on in small increments of time. And, because I’ve been at this place before, with other dogs, I know that we’ll find that sweet spot of being at one with each other.
That’s the unspoken promise of one on one time.