Friday, September 17, 2010

Double Agent

Friday morning brings another long walk with the girls - first Arwen and then Nyxie.  Arwen goes out first as she's the oldest - all that fur and a little arthritis can cause a girl to suffer in the Texas heat.  She's so excited to set out, tail held high, flag flying proudly.  She's the all-sniffer and I let her get away with murder.  I act tough, but in reality, I pretty much let her sniff any old thing she wants.  She knows I'm weak when it comes to her royal fuzziness.  I feel I should keep her on the straight and narrow.

"We are on a walk!" and keep everything military style.  Nose forward, pace steady, no pulling.
The reality of it all is a bit different.

 Picture a woman walking behind her husky, being tugged, really.  We stop at about 8 feet intervals, or wherever there is a break in concrete, a patch of grass.  It's a bit like walking seizures.  Each inch is examined thoroughly.  There are little piles of poo, bugs, a bottle cap, flowers, anything and everything must be sniffed.  I am like an anchor to her drive.  Small corrections work, but I am secretly wishing for a smaller, more user-friendly Pug.  Huskies are the hippie free spirits of the dog world.  They live in the ethereal moment.  Arwen's never seen a flower she didn't have to smell.  She looks up at the clouds moving and considers chasing them.  She's the primitive warrior, the most irreverent jester.  She needs this freedom.  And I am a sap.  So what's the harm in a little hiccup-walking?

Nyxie on the other hand is the soldier.  She blazes out the door with a sense of authority, excitement, tingling anticipation.  Ears are pricked, nose is on hyper-drive.  I don't let her have an inch.  She's too strong and powerful to go unchecked.  We walk as a unit, she's attentive to my movements, eyes on me.  When she tries to tug ahead, I stop dead.  Her stop is rewarded with my forward motion.  She's a quick study.  We walk fiercely, she knows to stay close.  Eyes scanning, ears forward.  She's coming into her own.  Her fearful hesitation is gone and she's learned to trust my leadership.  She's still young and when there's something she doesn't understand, she looks to me for guidance.  Each confident attempt is rewarded.  She's still sniffing of course, (when is she not...?!) but her size allows her to sniff and walk, never breaking stride.

Today we had no yummy treats (a travesty, I know) and the poor deprived darling had to walk with substandard treats.  Now, these will do in a pinch - when we're home and I break out the box, there's no reluctance at all.  But the walks require something marvelous, something still at the store.  Luckily we had no close encounters at all today.  There was a small situation in which a lady with 2 small dogs was walking ahead of us, something which would have created a reaction previously, but only a small tail raise and a steady stare resulted.  Distraction was easily made.  Progress!

When Nyxie was good and tired, I pulled out my long 30 ft lead and we did a bit of "stay, approach, come" work just for a bit of mental stimulation.  She did a strange thing then.  This was the leash we used with protection training.  During this, her goal when allowed, was to bite the handler's sleeve and hang on.  To get to that point, she had to run at the handler not around him.  Today, when I allowed her to "come" to me from a lying down "stay", she ran at me and didn't swerve.  Of course there was no bite, but she's never bodily tackled me before. Her usual run at me is a game where she swerves out of the way at the last moment, like playing "chicken".  I think she remembered the leash and her previous training.  She also had the presence of mind to understand that biting would have ended badly for both of us.  After a few goes at me (which are quite humbling, really as you recognize that 75 lbs of pure muscle have just hurled themselves at you and you're bracing to stay upright!), entirely controlled by command to "come!", she understood that this was not the same game as before.  I can only imagine what my neighbors must've thought...both the human and the wild ones.

I like to imagine that there are coyotes, raccoons, hawks, all around us, watching us as we play in their world.  They must wonder at us - we're a spectacle.  What an eyeful today!  Maybe they think I'm a spy.  I'm seen with the strangest characters.  First, the hippie wild child, then the soldier girl.
I'm a double agent.
Truth is stranger than fiction...


  1. Phantom is like your soldier girl - he can never get "there" fast enough, even though he has no idea where "there" is - he just wants to go. Ciara is a puller but it is more her youth and Mom's lack of control. TD is Mr. Laidback. He isn't terribly interested in a lot of sniffing, but he does sniff. He mainly want to amble along and really enjoy his walk.

    Funny how they are all different.

    Happy weekend.

    Woos ~ Phantom, Thunder, and Ciara

  2. I'm all of them furred into one!

    I khan have a mission
    I khan take the meandering speed too!

    I'm sure woo wouldn't have us any other way!


  3. I love the way you describe the differences between the two dogs, not just their breed differences, but how their personalities are related to them. When you describe Arwen, I can see your description in every one of my dogs, (they are all part Husky) and your preception of her is like nothing I have ever heard before and yet it is so true. Thank you for showing me this beautiful vision of truth you have.

  4. What a wonderful thing to say. Truly, Thank you!

  5. Every one of our animal friends has his or hers own distinct personality. But I have a hard time explaining this to some of my friends. I guess one has to be a pet owner oneself and live or work with them on a daily basis to fully understand how unique they really are.

  6. What fun walking adventures you have with your "wild one" and the "soldier" :)

    I'd let you take me on a walk anytime :)

    Followin your tail,

  7. Roo- It would be my privilege to walk you! Thanks for following!


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