Wednesday, November 25, 2009

and yet one more

Ten years of volunteering at our local no kill animal shelter.
The foster dog I had for 6 months went happily back to his previous owner. I can't even count how many dogs I've worked with, walked in the last ten years but I have about 5 pairs of dead sneakers to show for it, and yet there is another. One more sad, young, huge dog with way too much energy, that needs me, needs an ally right now. He was a stray, a large 90lbs. ish yellow lab mostly with a dash of hound face and instinct, a la sniffing on the ground as we walk with head down, and part greyhound in terms of the speed he can run, with a dash of bunny rabbit thrown in. He was running so fast in the dog park, his back legs could not keep up so they would bunch together and hop ahead of him like a rabbit. I should have known better than to wear my new army peacoat the first day I worked with him as he jumped all over me, focusing on my head a lot with his big skinny dog legs and excitedly jumping and dancing all over me,with at least three days of unwashed shelter stink. Oh, but I am used to it, and it is a labor of love and I have no children to have cleaned up dirty diapers for, so the sacrifice is not much at all. His name is Dash. Allready I have many nicknames for him; Mr. Dashwood(Sense and Sensibilityby Jane Austen), Dashiel Hammet,Dish dash( a clothing item),Dasher, and a host of others.The first two days I was only able to walk him for about twenty minutes, breaking into jogs to help expell some of his energy. The main issue was the excited puppyish, jumping all over me behavior. Today, the third day was much better. As a matter of fact about 75% better. My consistency with reinforcing the no jumping and the leash corrections coupled with affection and verbal praise switching to harsh gutteral no's for bad behaior are catching on. That, coupled with the 4th week after getting neutered and I'm thinking maybe we have a pretty smart, soon to be nice dog on our hands.So the lesson for the day is; exercise, consistency with commands, positive reinforcement, and happy talk( hunting breeds love praise) and we're making terrific progress. This is what's so rewarding. The progress and walking the neighborhood of the small college town and remembering the people I've met along the way

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