Monday, March 17, 2008

Two Labs and a Buzzard

Walking my dogs on leash in our suburban neighborhood always has the potential to be interesting. They learned to leave squirrels alone last fall. They've gotten darned good at tucking in close to me—usually in a nice sit/stay–when a car approaches. They even manage to walk comfortably in tandem (no more tangled leashes) without pulling my arm out of the socket. Since they weigh a combined 160 pounds (70 and 90 pounds, respectively), that's an important one. Now, understand, we don't have sidewalks. Fortunately, we have wide streets. So a few days ago we were rounding the corner about 30 minutes into our walk when I see a buzzard on the road in front of us feasting on something. First, this is not a small bird. Second, anything new (and the dogs had never been this close to a bird this big before) is of huge interest to my dogs. Not wanting to get into a pulling contest with them, I decided to try getting both of them to heel on my left side (the side away from the bird and his meal). To my amazement they did it, focused on me, and ignored the bird. Not only did they heel together, but they did it perfectly aligned at my side, shoulder to shoulder.

Cody Girl is six years old. Murphy is almost three. The hundreds of hours spent training these two paid off in that moment. Keep working with your dogs. They'll make you proud.

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