Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Cesar, I want my money back.

I like to walk for exercise. Well, I don't exactly like it, but that would be my preferred exercise, if I had to choose one. And I do. At 48, it becomes a medical necessity.

So after dinner last night, Ben said he would clean up so I could go for my walk. I took Stupid (aka Pete) and went on my merry way. Now, way back when we first got Pete (an American bulldog mix) and I realized he was going to be bigger and stronger than my 11-pound Yorkie, I decided I'd better teach him to walk nicely on a leash without all the pulling and yanking and frothing at the mouth you see some dogs do. So I got what's called a pinch collar. It's a metal choke thing that has spikes turned in toward the dog's neck, so that when you yank on the leash, it feels like the mommy dog is biting the puppy (that's really how mommy dogs teach their puppies not to do certain things--they bite them), and the puppy stops whatever he's doing when he's been "bitten." At least that's the theory. I also read all of Cesar Milan's books and watched every episode of The Dog Whisperer I could find. So naturally, I'm a dog expert now. The leader of my pack. Just ask Pete.

Now that Pete is three years old (and 70 pounds of lean, mean muscle, except for the wad of fat that jiggles under his neck and the empty space between his ears), he's a good walker. He still wears the pinch collar, I hold the leash with about a foot of slack, and he walks very nicely right there at my left side. My neighbors all remark at what an obedient dog he is.

That's his superego. Then there's his id. Somehow, his id is unaware of the choke collar. So last night we're having this lovely walk in the cool, fall weather when we come upon a family out for an evening stroll with the dog and children. The first thing that happens is the fur on Pete's neck (actually, all the way down to his tail) stands up straight and he sticks his chest out past the fat under his neck. Then there's a bit of tension on the leash. I can sense that he is nervous, so I heed Cesar's advice and keep moving forward, speeding my pace a bit to force Pete to follow. Every time Pete looks at the dog, I give a little yank on the chain, "biting" his neck to redirect his attention.

Then the other dog lunges.

At this point, I should tell you that Pete is a chicken. He gets his hackles up and barks, but he is scared to death. He once avoided our back yard for days because there was a log out there he didn't recognize (I'm not kidding).

Does Pete lunge back? Yes! But not in the right direction. He jumps three feet sideways, throwing himself into the side of my left leg, knocking me off balance and then rushes toward the other dog barking and yelping as far as his one foot of slack will let him go. Except that I'm off balance now, what with the 70-pounds of quivering nervousness acting like a pinball in the middle of our quiet, suburban street. Somehow I keep Pete from dragging me over to the other dog, and we manage to keep moving forward, whining and barking and pulling back and forth all the way. Where are Cesar and his dumb theories now?

The family watches all this in amazement, and seems to be unaware that their 10-year-old boy is making a bee-line to pet the "nice doggie" and I am in fear for the child. Pete is now foaming, yelping, and gasping for air. Suddenly the father sees his son 6 feet from my crazed animal and screams, "Russell!!" and that sends Pete into further maniacal contortions. I start running just to get us out of there, wondering if I'll be able to drag my dog away from the scene. I shouldn't have worried. Pete realizes I'm moving quickly now and, glad to be getting away, he takes off like he's been shot out of a cannon. That one foot of slack is not nearly enough. He yanks me almost off my feet and I struggle to keep up with him until we get around the corner where he instantly morphs into the docile, well-trained dog he was just three minutes previous.

There's no cure for stupid.

Be thankful ~


1 comment:

Paris said...

That made me laugh out loud. I love dogs and love Cesar, so I especially enjoyed reading of your little walking adventure. :)