We've all had those days where things just don't go quite right. Where you roll out of bed and there's a dark cloud following you around and it's just not so great. I had one of those days yesterday! I woke up late and my husband and I had a miscommunication about me dropping him off at work. He thought I had decided to stay home so he was about to leave me here. I popped out of bed just in time to tell him to wait and then I had to rush and my brain was not fully awake by the time the girls and I hit the park.
I've complained in a few posts about how Phoenix suddenly discovered bunnies. Well actually, I've figured out that it's not the bunnies she's wanting. It's their poop. Even more pleasant. Yay. So we got to the park and I'm not awake yet and I let them off leash. They are happy and excited and they take off through the tall grass and chase each other with some zoomies. They come back to me and we start our walk. Zoe decided to poop, so I go to clean that up, stand back up and Phoenix is missing. The past couple of weeks the grass has grown pretty tall out there. All I can see is grass, blackberry bushes and the freeway which is pretty much right there. There's a fence but it's not a very good one.
So my sleep deprived and addled brain starts panicking and it was not pretty. Momma had a meltdown! I'm calling her and calling her but honestly, it was windy and there's freeway noise, I don't think she could hear me. So I take Zoe and we start to go in the direction I figured she went and I'm telling Zoe we have to find Phoenix. She starts scenting the ground and leads me into the bushes. She's not trained to search but I keep asking her "Where's Phoenix?? Find Phoenix!!" (We do play this game occasionally where we ask one dog where the other is, but I normally know exactly where they are!) This was the longest 8 minutes of my life. No joke. So I'm calling and calling and I see Phoenix pop out onto the trail where I would of been had I just gone about my usual route. I can see that she's looking for me (where she thought I was supposed to be) and as soon as she spotted me the recall was beautiful.
I rewarded her for coming and instantly clipped the leash on. Dogs who disappear don't get to stay off leash. This whole new behavior that's happening is pretty annoying to be honest. I've never had a problem with her not staying close to me. She is generally the dog that is glued to my side, who will run up the trail and come right back to me. I'm just very puzzled by her new found independence and I don't like it. So I kept her on leash for about a mile and worked on some obedience training with her until we had passed where the bunnies live. After that, I let her off the leash and she came back every single time and was really good about checking in the rest of the walk.
Right before I let Phoenix off leash again, Zoe rolled in a dead creature. Perfect! Thanks, Zoe! Sigh... So much for a peaceful morning nature walk!
So I'm trying to focus on the good things that did happen instead of dwelling on the bad. I've come up with a list:
- Phoenix did come out of the bushes on her own, where I should have been had I been fully awake and able to think. She was right on track on our usual path the way we always go.
- Zoe, usually the naughty one, stayed with my while I was freaking out and she tried to help me find Phoenix.
- Phoenix was very well behaved and appropriate with every dog she met the rest of the walk. (We met so many!!!) Major Win!
- There's a river to toss the dogs in when they roll in dead things. (They did get a full bath when they got home, too)
- We walked almost 7 miles!
- Nobody broke into my car. (Random, I know but it happens and I'm glad it didn't)
- Jamba Juice makes everything better. (Seriously, it does)
- Zoe lost .5lbs and only has another pound to go before she's back where I want her to be.
- No one was run over. (Low probability but still a concern)
- At least now I know I can't let her off the leash in that area anymore. Good to know!
- Both dogs are absolutely exhausted from their adventures and they are cuddly.
|Look Everyone! She does know how to "come"!|
So I'm coming up with a new training plan to work on this crazy "disappearing into the blackberries" behavior because I don't like it and it can't happen again. For now I will be keeping her on leash and working on "focus on me" in that area of the park and I will be switching up our route. That way she doesn't know which trails we are taking so she can't just take off and figure out where I am later. I think switching it up will really help. We work on recall every single day so that won't be changing but I am going to brush her up on her leave-its. I will probably go back to using the hunting bells as well so that even if I can't see them I can hear them.
Even the most well trained, best dogs have bad days! We are all human and they are dogs. Sometimes they do dumb things. I think what's important is that we learn from our mistakes and theirs so that we can do better next time.