Saturday, June 20, 2009

The Jack Russell Effect

We had a mild, but thought-provoking incident today... well, yesterday, as it's past midnight already.

We went for a walk along the asphalt path at the top of the beach. Lots of dogs going by; I should have known, seeing as we're having a huge multi-event dog show this weekend at a field very nearby. She was doing well, albeit a little distracted with a pair of small dogs walking just in front of us, but we soon passed them and it was fine.

She saw a Jack Russell Terrier, though. We were walking behind him, trying to keep our distance. She was responding to my "leave-its" and "watch mes".. all until she leapt out in front of me and ALMOST got to the end of the leash.

Again, this was not aggression, and it was most certainly not fear. She didn't make a sound, she wasn't particularly tense (not any more so than when she sees a dog at all: whether she's feeling good or bad about it, she always perks up), no hackles raised, no real lunging or anything. Just kind of speeding up obviously wanting to do SOMETHING to or with this dog.

So, I turned around, walked a couple of steps the other way, asking for her attention, and it was fine. We then passed him (they were walking quite slow) and she was fine as we passed and after we passed.

Now, I'm thinking to myself, crap.. she's got a thing for JRTs. I think she is drawn to their scrappy spirit, [usual] socialite attitudes, bouncy energy/speed, and small size - they're less intimidating, more fun to chase. She used to go walking with my friend's JRT, then experienced the greatness (in her eyes) of a JRT at agility. Hmmm.. could it all be adding up?

Naturally, I'm a little worried about this. We're going to keep up as-is, with NO leash greets whatsoever on walks, (though I have resumed SOME greeting at classes, as long as she is 100% calm and so are the other dogs), heavy enforcement of the management commands (leave it watch me come), and no opportunity for chasing at agility.

I hope I didn't make the wrong choice in signing her up for another session.

In spite of this, I need to look at the positives, too. We encountered an ornery, off-leash little dog on our walk the other day. At my instruction, Marge paid him no attention and kept walking. We also had to pass a certain lunging dog behind a fence.. and she just kept walkin'. She also totally ignored Rusty the JRT when he came running up to us while we were doing teeter work on Tuesday.

Tomorrow should present its own challenges: we have both thunderstorms and fireworks in the forecast for here. I'm hoping that, at least, the former prevents the latter. Or, if there's no rain, we'll likely head to Grandma's house and weather the fireworks there. Ah, the joys of summer and a noise-phobic dog. Marge has, for the most part, made me prefer the winter. Dog ownership is much easier in the cold months.

On a bright note.. Marge actually went up to my dad today while he was on the couch and started to play with him by licking his face and pawing at him. She then said to herself, "Oh crap, what did I just do?," started barking at him and got real testy in general, but I think it was more over-excitement than anything. He then threw her surgically-repaired squeaky bunny for her, and all was well.

On another bright note.. Rufus & Indie, here is the picture for your Summer Photo Contest that you asked us to post on the blog. Sorry it's so late - we've had a busy week over here!


StellaStar June 20, 2009 at 11:52 AM  

Awww! I love the sandy nose!

Golden Samantha June 20, 2009 at 6:28 PM  

Woof Marge! (Read Mango Man's blog today!) Walkies can be so tough - I pull on the leash if there is something I absolutely have to investigate (and it's usually food in bushes or something). I can drag mom easily hehe! But usually I'm good and listen - and, very often at parks or open space where I go leashless. I hope you can settle and help you ma out! And I hate loud noises too - bigtime! They scare the creep outta me! I get it! Sending you peaceful vibes to help get through the bangs and booms. That picture is pawsome!'
Hugs xo

Shadowsky June 20, 2009 at 10:40 PM  

What a cute picture. I hope everything goes alright with the fireworks and thunder.


Sue June 21, 2009 at 12:20 PM  

That's a great picture. I've had three noise phobic dogs and it's not easy and takes a lot of advance planning. During fireworks I usually take them to the basement,turn the TV or music on loud and make noise and move around a lot so they don't notice what's happening outside. Maybe she knew a JRT in her previous life.

Anonymous June 23, 2009 at 5:00 PM  

Cute pictures, Samantha!! Marge looks like a doll, even with dirt on her nose!

It sounds like a great success for you guys none-the-less... I'm glad she listens to you and has confidence in your confidence! : D

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