It is now the first week of May, 2015. Lately I’ve notice Ty has started just hanging out in the fenced yard. I like to sit in the swing, my back to him, waiting and working on building that trust. I think it’s safe to assume, though we don’t always look at each other, our senses are unquestionably tuned in.
My patience is paying off. Slowly, he works his way to me, making pacing loops that slowly close in toward me. He reminds me of a little kid. He wants to come but at the same time, doesn’t want to. In the kid’s case, they usually don’t want to stop what they’re already doing. In Ty’s case I suspect he’s scared of what might be coming.
Then, after a scant moment’s touch, he zips behind the swing, where he has that barrier between us. Thin mesh, but a barrier to separate us nonetheless. So I lay there staring up at the tree, talking. He lays there, inches away from me, listening. It’s an entirely peaceful time.
Avery Faith, one of my house cats, was most curious about Ty and offered to be friends. I caught her in the cave with him, inching closer, as he backed up as far as he could. I could not help but feel sorry for both of them. I think, if he’d ever allow her close, and if he could tolerate her kittenish ways, they would be good for each other. In the end, she gave up and left him alone.
May 9th and we traveled to the local community park (Fletcher). It was in full swing with every activity one could imagine. He took it all in stride like a champ. Can you see my heart swelling with pride? Strollers, kids, dogs, joggers, bikes, cars, trucks hauling trailers, go-cart, screaming kids, music. All of it and more. The sensory intake must have been on overload.
We walked about, Ty’s tail out. He wasn’t wagging it gaily, but he wasn’t keeping it tucked either. His ears were busy moving like radar antenna, just taking it all in. For the first 8 to 10 minutes, we just walked, having no problems. Then I took him toward the open air, covered picnic shed, thinking it might be nice for a break from the heat.
Approaching the yawning doorway (flanked by wide open walls) he freaked out. Meltdown time. Hitting reverse, he planted the feet and dug in. I thought he might slip his collar and rushed to close in. It took some serious cajoling and coaxing to get him to move for the Jeep.
Once we got home, he retreated to his cave and quickly settled down. The picnic shed meltdown notwithstanding, it was a great, successful visit to new location full of lots of stimulation.
May 16th. Ty took a short road trip with me. I’ve been cat sitting all week and this Saturday he got to accompany me. Except he had to stay alone in the car while I tended the cats inside. I checked on him twice and both times he was resting peacefully, just keeping a watchful eye out. No panic, no obvious anxiety. He had a water bowl and a couple of times he took a drink, though preferring to ignore the treat.
Afterward, I took him to the MR dog park. Another new place. I was admittedly a little worried just unhooking his leash and letting him run. The area was huge, probably close to an acre, enclosed with a ten foot fence, bordering the highway at the far end. He could run off, scale the fence and be out on the road in no time. What if he didn’t necessarily jump and run off, but refused to come when I called him? How could I get him back if he didn’t want to?
My fears were for not. He had a splendid time. He ran with the dogs he wanted to, ignored the ones he had no interest in. He allowed a young girl to pet him once briefly before walking away from her. He stayed cued in to what I was doing, but coming back to me every few minutes, touching his nose to my leg or hand once and then going off to play more. Only to return a few minutes later. He took a break, lying next to me while I petted and praised, then returned to play when a new dog entered the fence.
He checked out the other people walking around, showing very little fear or shyness, just initial caution. As he played with the dogs, his tail came out, raising high like a plumed banner. He was so happy! I was so proud!
Even off leash, he was obedient. Anyone there would think we’d had formal obedience lessons. I could barely believe this was the same dog that two months ago could not walk on a leash or come when called. When he went to the gate to welcome newcomers, I called him back. He didn’t actually return immediately, but he did stop and look over his shoulder at me. When it came time to leave, he told me he was ready by going to the gate where so many others had come and gone and stood where his leash was clipped on the fence, waiting for me.
Returning to the Jeep and home, I felt like a Dog Park Mom.