Better with Friends

Thursday evening I met up with Josh and Noot at the lake. It was very drizzly, and the trail was extremely muddy in a few parts. It was funny to see Noot–a big husky–fastidiously avoid getting his feet more than a little damp, and Penny (who was off-leash) gaily wade through the largest of mud-puddles with nary a second thought. I have to say, for being very badly bred, she’s got this whole earthdog rodent killing terrier thing down pat. Thankfully she doesn’t excavate our yard, but I hear she would dig up the vole tunnels without a second thought.

I only know Noot as this big love sponge, and it was strange to see him so keyed up. He was straining at the end of his leash, obviously enjoying pulling his six-foot human behind him. Josh had to be careful not to have tension on the leash when other dogs came at us, because Noot would react pretty aggressively if he was tugging. I’ve never really seen leash-aggression at work before. It was pretty interesting. And scary.

I have noticed that Penny is more confident off-leash, where she has room to choose her own distance from oncoming dogs. She was morbidly curious about every dog we met, skulking out of reach of the more aggressive ones and then sneaking up behind them for sniffs. This was more pronounced with people, as usual, but even though she was nervous, she was still curious and willing to check them out.

I have been reinforcing the come command with Penny with some extra-smelly treats at appropriate opportunities. I bungled it once,though, when a large pack of dogs came charging around the corner when I was pulling the treat bag out of my pocket. I wasn’t about to dole out treats, so it took some doing for Penny and I to get moving and un-swarmed by the eager (yet polite) mob and get past their three owners, who encouraged them onward.

It was a very fun walk. We had another husky (and by proxy, her owner, who was a ways back) join up with us and walk in our little pack for the last part of the loop. This dog was pretty happy about walking next to Noot as if in harness, trotting around with Penny as she went off to sniff things, casually and conversationally heeling with one of us, or just being off exploring at whatever caught her fancy. It was neat to see how laid-back  and pack happy this dog was.

Fortunately Penny had shed most of the mud she had picked up by the time we got back to the car, but there were still muddy paw prints everywhere. I just took time to admire what they signified and went home happy.


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