Early awakening courtesy of Isis. Park. Saturday school for dogs. The training harness hasn’t arrived yet because I messed up the order so we improvise, using a large ring which I found in the park this week. It works well.
The gear we have ordered is a Mecuti harness and lead set. The lead is double ended so that one end can be clipped onto a ring on the part of the harness lying on the dog’s back and the other onto a ring on the chest area. This enables you to ‘steer’ the dog very gently in the direction you are walking. You can also use the leads for specific signals, for example, upward strokes on the ‘top’ lead indicates that something is about to happen. We are using it to signal ‘forward’ and ‘turn’. A gentle, almost playful little tug on the chest lead indicates ‘stop’. Isis seems very happy with all this.
Ju.’s verdict at the end of our exertions is, “Isis is doing very well. You have to concentrate much more on what you are doing.” She is dead right. It’s the story of my life.
This week my unpredictable little dog is angelic. She walks up the carpet, ‘about turns’ on cue and walks back. She repeats the performance several times. No stopping and refusing to move. No pulling in the opposite direction. No walking across me. And when, for the first time, we join the owner and dogs circling the carpet, she happily walks with them.
What’s more, when the other group is working, she is calm and relaxed. She doesn’t rest in elegant poses like the greyhounds, but hops in and out of her bed, sits, lies down (for a few seconds) and has a little walk in our space. She seems to enjoy the many strokes I give her, and certainly enjoys the many treats. Not once does she spin or bite a foot.
The other dogs’ beds are moved up to the edge of the carpet while they practise ‘stay’ and ‘come’. Isis has to remain on the side of the room while the greyhounds are off-lead. Ju. reminds me that the greyhounds have been trained to pursue small furry creatures and it is our top priority to keep her safe.
Isis does some very brief stays in her bed but for nowhere near as long as she will at home. I can’t get her to play with a toy. She appears confused. But then, it’s only over the last few weeks that she’s picked up a toy to play with. And her plays are very brief.
I think she has the potential to do very well. I’m less sure about her owner.
Isis came from the Aeza cat and dog rescue and adoption centre in Aljezur, Portugal. For information about adopting an animal from the centre, contact email@example.com or www.dogwatchuk.com