I know everybody knows that my brother Doodlebug is learning to be basically obedient and graduating from classes, but guess what: I am a graduate too!
But I am a graduate in kind of a fancy, secret way that only me and mama know about — and now you’ll know too.
Mama has mentioned in the past how I am not so great at meeting other dogs and how I used to give her panic attacks when we were out in public and there were other dogs around, right? Well guess what? Mama says that I passed my impromptu final exam this week and that I’m now officially a graduate of all that nonsense!
The other day mama took me on a dog hike with some of our trainer friends and some other dogs who are working on themselves and their people (who are working on themselves too), and I really turned up the shine for mama. Here are some things that happened:
- Some off-leash dogs came running by us on the trail and I turned my head away to say “no thank you” and just coolly ignored the heck out of them;
- I bedded down for a nap in the tall grasses on a break just a few feet away from several other dogs; and
- I got to play a helper role, posing as a dog resting right on the edge of the trail as everybody else practiced Walking By Distractions (me!!), keeping my composure even if the other dogs barked or stared at me.
Those of you who knew the Before Chick really understand what a Very Big Deal this is. I did awesome!
I’m not showing off just for showing off’s sake — I’m mostly bragging to remind my friends of how far a reactive dog can come with hard work, training, and mutual trust between dog and person. All throughout our hike mama kept saying — I can’t believe he’s the same Chick!
Of course I’m the same Chick, mama. But during all that time you were busy worrying about me, I was busy learning some important lessons: I don’t have to approach a dog if I’m worried about it, I know you will protect me whenever I’m concerned, and I can always look to you for help figuring out what I’m supposed to do.
After I learned those things, everything else is a piece of cake! I’ve been practicing the Good Behaviors for a long time now, I just don’t think that they really sank in the whole way for mama until recently. I just had to keep showing her and showing her and showing her. I guess this week, she finally understood!
Years ago when we were just beginning our journey, mama never would have guessed that someday we’d be able to hike off-leash with six dogs I don’t know all around us — with me sticking right by her side like a good boy, not even worried about what everybody else was doing. But check us out here — aren’t we just the picture of wholesome fun?