Blessed with a sun-shine-y, mild day, I loaded Tessa up into the back of the Volvo wagon and together we sallied forth. I had a simple plan and we were about to work it.
Tessa wore: her anxiety wrap over which I layered her easy walker harness over which I layered her fleece-lined, bright yellow dog coat.
I packed: treats, a few plastic bags, and stashed my cell phone into the pocket of my Gortex ski pants.
Tessa rode, crated, in the very back of the car. I drove us to the village parking lot where there would be lots of distractions and not a lot of other dogs. It was 1:30PM. The early morning dog-walkers had long disappeared and the after school dog walkers weren’t due out for a few more hours.
I’m getting smarter. Tessa had to sit (inside of her crate) before I opened the crate door to let her out. We circled around parked cars and headed for Main Street. Lots of traffic to watch as we waited for the light to change in our favor. Pedestrians to get around and another LARGE parking lot to explore.
In less than ten minutes from when we started out, we were standing on one of the bridges that goes over the canal. Tessa was in a sit and I was watching her. She’s easily distracted by the scents that overpower her nose so that she sits because she recognizes the command, but her heart’s not in it. Or rather, her focus isn’t in it.
But, I wasn’t asking for “focus” today.
We ambled back across the bridge and retraced our steps through one parking lot, crossed Main Street, and took the stairs to the upper level of the Village Landing. And, there we sat. And, sat some more. Soaked up the sun, enjoyed the sharp breeze and people-watched.
Tessa was in a sit between my legs – if you can picture that. We held that pose for a good fifteen minutes. A mom and her young son walked by us and stopped to say hi. They have a springer spaniel and know about dogs. Tessa took a treat from the boy and they went on their way.
And we sat and people-watched some more.
Tessa watched a few guys go past us on their way into one of the stores. Her head followed her nose as she air-sniffed and quietly watched more foot traffic. People getting into or out of their cars, going into stores, walking by us.
One man started talking to me about my “dingo dog,” as he headed for one of the stores. When he changed direction and headed straight for us, still commenting about Tessa to me, Tessa started to growl and bark at him.
Not a frenzied bark, but not an acceptable bark either.
This man also knows about dogs because he stopped coming towards us. I explained that Tessa wasn’t real sure about men but that we were working on it. And, the man said, “That’s too bad.”
It IS too bad, but it’s fixable. Tessa’s predictable in what she does. She reacts to a mix of what she views as threatening behavior: a deep voice + a body towering over her OR a deep voice + a long arm attached to a big hand reaching over her.
When we go to get her nails trimmed at Fido’s, she’s good with Peter, the owner. Peter’s built kind of like my husband; has that same deep voice. But. Like my husband, Peter keeps his hand movements slow and easy.
Like today. When we were done with our village
socialization walk, we drove over to Fido’s. Peter went out of his way to spend a few extra minutes with Tessa who never growled once. Not a peep.
Time spent with Tessa in the village: 30-40 minutes. Drive time: maybe 20 minutes. Time spent at Fido’s: 25-30 minutes. End result? Tessa’s pooped! And THAT was what I was asking for today. [gplus count=”true” size=”Medium” ]