This past weekend we were out in the country at my aunt and uncle’s house…they were away so I was on dog sitting duty for them. They have a lovely 12 year old black lab, Thule. I’ve mentioned before that Wheaton loves Thule. And we all love it out at “the ranch”…9 acres of peace and quiet.
I believe that Wheaton needs to have some freedom…and when we’re out there it’s safer to practice this because we have 9 acres, if he starts to get away from me I have more time for recall…..at home he could get to the street.
So here at “the ranch” I let him go leash-less. He stays where Daisy and Thule are and if he wanders I call him, he comes back and I give him a treat.
My mistake on Saturday was taking the dogs out with me while I was hanging laundry . I learned a valuable lesson; I cannot be distracted with Wheaton being leash-less.
I looked down….2 little dogs….I turned back to my laundry, hung my clothes, looked down….1 little dog.
<ONE. LITTLE. DOG. F#%K!!!!!!!!!!!! WHEATON!!!!!!!!!! F#%K F#%K F#%K!!!!>
Don’t panic. He probably just went around the side of the house.
<DO NOT PANIC!!!>
I call him, “Wheatie, come. Treats!”
Nothing. I call again while walking around the house. Nothing. Then…out of the corner of my eye I see white movement. The problem is that I think he’s on the other side of the tree line….on the road side. My heart skips and jumps right up into my throat.
<ON THE ROAD!!!!!!!!! OH MY GAWD!!!!!! THE F#&KING ROAD!!!!!!>
Again. Do not panic. I cannot go running over to him. I’ll scare the shit out of him. He has to come to me….and I can tell he’s trying to….he just can’t find his way back through the ditch and up the other side to get back into the yard.
I walk to the path….he’s trotting back and forth looking for a way to get back to me….I get his attention and calmly say,”Hey there baby boy….whatchadoin? Come on up…you can do it Wheatie…come on…come get your treat.” and he starts coming. Three steps, he’s off the road. We’re getting there. He’s climbing up the side through the tall grasses, he’s getting closer to me…..and finally he’s back in the yard…beside me…eating his treats. Not a care in the world…no idea that I just about lost the plot. All good. He won’t let me pick him up so I get him to stay focused on me and that bag of treats! He wasn’t running away…he was just exploring and got lost a little. He has no desire to run away…he knows where his food is! He follows Daisy and I back into the house. Good boy.
I breathe. I cry.
He did lose his off leash freedom for the rest of the weekend. However, I’m still a believer in him experiencing some freedom…but for that process to work for him, I need to keep my focus, because, every second is a training opportunity.
And I definitely got trained in those few hundred seconds.