Puppy walking

An adventure in looking after a puppy until it is old enough to be properly trained as a guide dog for the blind.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

I decided to take Rockwell with me when I went over to the college today. I was only going for a meeting with one other person and we were just planning to chat about the course, so I figured I could divide my attention between her and the dog and give Rockwell a little bit of it. We met in a combo lunch/mail/photocopy/printer type room and initially, Rockwell tried to sniff under the chairs and wouldn’t sit down. Whenever a person came into the room to do something like make a copy, I asked them to please ignore the dog. They were all very obliging and in turn Rockwell, although not ignoring them, because he wasn’t getting any attention, laid down! He would look up when someone came in and wag his tail if they made eye contact. But if they didn’t come over, he would lie down again. Before, I thought it seemed rude to make the dog and the people ignore each other but now I see it is much easier on all of us.

When we left the building, we headed for the Loblaws. I took his jacket off so he could have a pee and sure enough, he had to do just that. Then we walked on the icy snow toward the parking lot and I slipped and fell. I wasn’t hurt but I let go of the leash and Rockwell decided this was now a game of keep away. There is a very busy road near where I fell in the field and I was having a heart attack wondering if Rockwell would decide to run toward the road for a change. I kept calling him and he would run back to me but then keep out of my reach. He ran back and forth like this for a minute or more and I was starting to despair when I saw a young man walking toward us on the slippery path. I asked him if he would call Rockwell to him, thinking the dog would love the opportunity to jump on someone new. Just as he agreed, Rockwell spotted him and ran toward him but I was right in his path and caught him. By then, my hands were shaking from the stress of worrying if Rockwell would run into the road and I felt a mess. I thanked the young man and he walked on and I sat on the ice with Rockwell and just petted him.

I have analyzed the situation now and I was holding the leash in the shortened configuration which just gives you one long loop. When I fell, the leash just slipped out of my hand. If I had had the leash in the long configuration, there would have been a small loop at my end which I slip around my wrist. Even if I had fallen then, the leash would have likely stayed looped around my wrist instead of falling away. So while I do plan to use the short leash for the balanced lead walking (less pulling that way), I will have to remember to use the small loop if there is a chance I could let go of it with my fingers. (I should make a drawing but I am too pooped.)


At 4:16 p.m., January 04, 2006, Blogger M-Fax said...

wow that is a stress fest, I have too felt like that when a busy road was involved. When I was living in TOronto I lived on BLoor St (for those who dont know, one of the main streets of the city. Bosco a few times as a pup and a grown up managed to run into the road and across. I know how you felt.

damn ice!

At 6:23 p.m., January 04, 2006, Blogger Natalie said...

omg julia, thats SO scary..that happened once with kodak too, but thank god he only ran a short distance and stayed to wait for me :S

i'm glad you weren't hurt though :D Good job Rockwell, in the photocopy room :D


At 8:33 p.m., January 04, 2006, Blogger IndyPindy said...

Ohh, naughty Rockwell! Keep away is what Huskies excel at whenever the leash fortuitously slips from our owner's hand. Then we have a brief taste of freedom until we are tricked into being caught, and then the Leash of Oppression is back once again.

But Rockwell, for your own safety, don't ever run toward a road or run in a parking lot - you could get hurt! Rockwell's mom, I'm very glad neither you or Rockwell were hurt!

From Indy's mom: Yes, using the loop at the end of the leash is the best! The instructor at the obedience school where I took Indy taught this, and I got in the habit of holding the leash that way from the beginning. It is a life saver!

At 10:40 p.m., January 04, 2006, Blogger Calvin said...

Very glad no one was hurt! I once had a dog slip out of their collar near a semi-major road, and I know exactly how hard your heart pounds in such a situation.

I agree that holding onto the handle loop is often a good way to preven the leash from slipping out of your hand, but be careful not to get it looped around your wrist, as I've heard of people breaking their wrists this way when a dog pulls.

Take care,
Sam and the dogs

At 11:54 a.m., January 05, 2006, Blogger Sam I Am said...

Sometimes you just don't know what they are thinking ,using the loop at the end of the leash is the best! We are so glad that you and Rockwell where not hurt!

At 12:47 p.m., January 05, 2006, Blogger JuliaR said...

Thanks all for your comments - it was nerve-wracking, I agree! As far as wrapping the leash around my wrist goes, I know I’d rather suffer a broken wrist than lose a dog in traffic. And I remembered that “they” say “never run after a puppy” because the puppy will run away. However, I couldn’t bring myself to run away from Rockwell at that moment! Ack. So I just stayed put and called and eventually caught him. Now I am even more determined to teach him what “come” means.

At 12:55 p.m., January 05, 2006, Blogger 8675309 said...

Ack! Scary...glad you guys are okay.

At 4:14 p.m., January 05, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'll bet your heart was racing and your hands trembling. Whatever incident happens with these dogs/puppies always seems 10 times worse because they aren't ours!
Glad to hear everything turned out ok!
Good idea to work on the "come" command with Rockwell.

At 1:05 p.m., January 06, 2006, Blogger JuliaR said...

Thanks Jenny. And Gwiz, you are so right about the hands shaking because they aren't our dogs! I am going to use the retractable leash to start on the "come" command and always reward with a kibble. He just hasn't learned the connexion between certain words and what is expected of him.


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