As the calendar turns to mid October, it’s hard to write of early July events, but they are pivotal in the milestones Ty and I experience. Yesterday in particular was a banner day, but that shall come in a future post. Today we begin where we left off, late June and the anticipation of the fourth of July holiday in a new neighborhood.
So far Ty has had a few new accidents on the floors and learned, while they don’t thrill me, they bring no punishment either. He avoids direct eye contact but has taken to stealing a few more glances when there is a decent distance between us.
Now, July 2, Thursday. While on our afternoon walk, a pop sounded out. A loud boom much like a firecracker. An Independence Day precursor. Ty bolted for the porch, dragging me behind him like a Marmaduke cartoon. There were no brakes. Ears back, tail down, mouth panting, he wasn’t stopping. He slid to a stop only when he reached the door and slammed himself bodily against it, as if he could force it open. Almost flying into it myself, I turned the handle and threw it open, fully expecting his mad scramble for the safety of the cave. Instead he dropped into a sit on the rug in his spot and waited. Albeit, his eyes were round, his panting was fierce and I swear he was shaking. But he waited.
Stunned, I praised him, lavishly. Slowly I unhooked his leash, adding more praise, knowing his heart had to be racing like a rabbit’s. Finally, about 30-45 seconds later, I released him with a verbal cue. Then he escaped to his cave, in a very self-controlled manner. It was clear to me outside was danger and inside was safety. Thankfully our next walk was uneventful, though he remained on high alert.
July 3, 2015 Friday. Today I took Ty to the local dog park. There was an eight-month old shepherd there, plus a two-year old Australian shepherd. Both females. The herding group was well represented. As I watched him romp and play with the girls, he seemed happy. Of course he is too old to hope to keep up with the younger energizer bunnies and he still held himself a little aloof and reserved. Despite the fact he was having fun, he still held himself in some sort of self-enforced check.
But he was beautiful to watch in motion. He lifted his tail into the air and pranced with his legs like a blue pony. He certainly moves nice, carrying himself with a regal air.
An interesting side note was when a little dog came to the fence separating big dogs from little dogs. It was an aggressive male mixed breed, with hackles fully raised and teeth fully exposed. What a terrible little monster. He looked like a furry shark and I wondered why he was allowed to run with the smaller dogs.
And Ty, curious at this small interloper, approached, raised his tail, bent his neck and whined at him. First real sound I have heard from him! A whine. As the little shark raced along the fence line, Ty followed, tail aloft and whining. Soon a shih Tzu joined them, behaving more polite than Jaws, even brushing himself along the wires.
And Ty went from whining to crying. I was stunned. Yes, the shih Tzu did resemble the dog he played with at my friends’ house. Same breed anyway. Ty ignored Jaws to cry and rub along the fence with the Shih Tzu. So I pulled out my phone, called my friends and asked if Ty could come visit their dogs the next day.
July 5, 2015 Sunday
Yesterday I took Ty to see his canine pals at my friends’ house. Actually, it wasn’t the happy romping I had been expecting, based on his actions from the dog park. The two girls stayed perched on their beds, the Shih Tzu was more interested in greeting me and Ty was content to hang out by lying at their back patio door. It was a short visit.
I have noticed Ty is getting much better at coming inside, almost as if he can’t wait to get inside. I still keep a hold –a good solid hold– on his leash since he still is prone to wild, unexpected bolts. But once inside, he sits on the rug automatically and waits as I step in front of him and stoop over to remove the leash. He still bolts occasionally but I am seeing more self-control in his movement as he returns to his cave where he knows a treat will find him.
He is starting to ask to go outside when he has to eliminate. No more accidents in the house, thank goodness. Maybe he’s just hoping for a car ride, because it’s clear to me he enjoys riding in the car. He might enjoy a ride around the block. And I alternate on whether I give him a treat or just the physical praise.
Last night I went out to hear a friend sing and returned home as the fireworks had reached their full peak. Ty was in the cave. He wasn’t trembling at least, but there was plenty of panting and drooling. I turned the fan on the floor to a low speed to help cool him off and to drown out the sounds of the popping. All in all, it wasn’t a bad holiday.
Looking at me from the end of his leash and half a step down on the porch.