Story: Interspecies Relationships
Dog Walking
By Jeff Marsch (05/12/09 15:37:56)
Related animal: Dog

This one was easy. It also helps when you pick a canine to be your conversation partner. In this brief exercise I tried nothing more than to get a friend's blue-nosed pit bull to come on a walk with me and fetch a stick. I chose this particular dog because she is exceptionally timid, and on a normal day wouldn't even let me pet her. I asked my friend if I could take his dog for a walk, and he told me to come and pick her up around sunset on a Tuesday. She hadn't been walked all afternoon and would hopefully be anxious to get outside with whoever would take her. When I arrived at the house, I took several tips from the dog whisperer, Cesar Millan, on how to approach a dog who is socially timid. The trick was to make myself small, so as not to appear threatening to the animal. I did not approach her, but rather waited for her to approach me. This made it clear that the relationship would be on her terms, as opposed to the assertion of the opposite had I advanced on her with a leash in my hand. After she came to me I let her sniff my hand, and extended a friendly gesture via a scratch behind the ears. Following a few minutes of petting and scratching, I showed her the leash to see if she was interested in a walk. She obviously understood the visual cue, and became visibly excited, literally leading me out of the door. I have never been a good dog walker, and this was a first; my old golden retriever would be so stubborn as to need dragging out of the door. Instead, this animal was willing and cooperative, and eventually playful. We reached a park after some time running and walking, with just enough time to throw a stick around. I let her off the leash, and to my surprise she stayed close, although clearly being led around by scents. I picked up a large stick immediately got her attention. She was willing to play until dark, at which point she started losing track of the stick. We headed back without issue, and she led me straight back to the house. It was a great success. This is an exceptionally boring story for most, but a genuine first for me.

[Write Comment]