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Dog Training Update (Dec 3)

Despite the germs (which linger, I’m sorry to say), I took Lilly on a little outing down into town last weekend. We went for a short walk. Lilly scaled rocks and walls. She even practiced a little shopping etiquette. Here is how it went.

Walking The Dog

I’m embarrassed to tell you that this little outing is the first time Lilly has been anywhere in months and months. Seriously, it’s been a long, l-o-n-g time. Lilly was THRILLED to be out, doing something, anything away from the house or our valley.

It was a tiny bit chilly, so I didn’t want to exert too much and breathe too much cold air, but we took our usual spin through town. To make it more interesting, I asked Lilly to HOP UP on pretty much everything we came across:

  • Benches
  • Big boulders on the side of the creek
  • Retaining walls
  • Planters

She thought that was VERY fun. Some folks asked us what we were training for, and when I said that Lilly was simply fearful and we were training for life, they said she looked pretty darn confident to them.

Dog Training Streetside

Normally, we stick to the intersecting paved trails in town, but that particular day I decided to try our luck walking up and down “Main Street” because it was “Small Business Saturday,” which is designed to get smaller retailers some of the holiday shopping moolah. I wanted to buy just 1 thing from a local biz to help out.

Lilly’s body language and responsiveness stayed well in line with normal (for her). She did, however, have one fit of Jumping Her Jitters Out … after a particularly noisy car went by.

But, she recovered nicely when a couple from out of town asked where they might go for breakfast. We walked them to the corner and showed them our favorite spot.

Lilly Goes Shopping

Since shopping traffic seemed doable, I decided to take Lilly into a few stores (that allow dogs) to look around and to have her POKE people (hand target), if we could find willing participants. Lilly visited:

  • A bike store
  • A women’s clothing store
  • An independent bookstore, where we bought a knitting book on scarves

On the surface, Lilly coped quite well inside the stores … except that she kept her tail tucked up tight to her belly. Poor sweetie girl. It popped back out when we returned to the street, but she tucked it away (like the force of gravity) when we went into a new store.

Maybe a Little Public Event?

While we were in the bookstore, I asked the owner about maybe doing a reading from My Dog is My Hero, which features an essay I wrote about Lilly. He seemed open to the idea, so maybe after the holidays we’ll do a little public event — read some essays, serve some refreshments, maybe sell some books, and maybe meet some old and new fans in person.

Do you think anyone will come?

And, the bigger question … Do you think I should bring Lilly?

Part of me says, “No way!”

Part of me thinks she’d be OK as long as the attendees were people, but not dogs. And, I think together we’d be a bigger draw than me alone.

Maybe if I had someone we trust to “handle” Lilly for the event?

Thoughts? Warnings?

Roxanne Hawn

Trained as a traditional journalist and based in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado, USA, I'm a full-time freelance writer for magazines, websites, and private clients. My areas of specialty include everything in the lifestyles arena, including health and home, personal finance and other consumer interests, relationships and trends, people and business profiles ... and, of course, all things pet related. I don't just love dogs. I need them in my life. Seriously.

KB - December 7, 2010

Sounds like you had a really good outing for such a long time not being out and about.

Maybe Gigi would handle Lilly for you? It sounds like a very cool idea!

Maery Rose - December 5, 2010

I can’t say about bringing Lilly. No one knows her better than you do. If people want to pet her, will she be okay? I am just simply amazed that you have any public places that allow dogs. That is unheard of here.

By the way, your tip about cornstarch on bleeding nails came in very handy yesterday and works so much better than the stuff that you can get specifically for that purpose. I’m getting better at judging how short to go but the jerking the paw away doesn’t help.

Sam - December 3, 2010

I think that bringing Lilly would be a GREAT idea if it was a human audience. We recently took a big leap by Marge accompanying me to my club’s meeting.. a great experience, and it was nice to step out of our comfort zone. But, I also think your idea to bring a second handler to work with Lilly in the event she gets nervous is a good back-up plan. And of course, lots and lots and lots of treats 🙂

Amy@GoPetFriendly - December 3, 2010

Oh, I think it would be great to take her to the reading! (With contingency plans in place, of course.) Perhaps you could web-cast it for all of us fans who won’t be able to make it in person.

    Roxanne Hawn - December 3, 2010

    I thought about that, Amy. I wonder if I could use the camera on my laptop and UStream (or some such) to broadcast the event live?

Betsy - December 3, 2010

Take her by all means! Having a helper or a contingency plan such as putting her in the car if she gets too stressed is a must. She could lay on her mat where you do the relaxation protocol.

    Roxanne Hawn - December 3, 2010

    Yes, Betsy. I would have a dedicated handler for Lilly, and I’d bring her crate or have the car nearby, etc. Just in case.

AC - December 3, 2010

Sounds like things went pretty darn well. Did you take that photo on your outing? Kona gets a goofy grin like that in situations when she’s nervous-excited. People often thinks she looks really happy even though she’s worried.

You know Lilly the best and will make the best choice for you two about the book event. My thought (coming from a dog owner who’s very conservative with potentially scary situations) is whether you’ll have an escape option for Lilly if things become too much….Oh, and I would certainly come if I were in town!

    Roxanne Hawn - December 3, 2010

    No, AC. That’s a photo from a while ago. I didn’t have a graphic for the post, so I just pulled another photo, but you are right. This is a somewhat happy face, with a tinge of worry.

Aly - December 3, 2010

Do it. One of my dogs was exactly the same way and I just took her to anything and everything I could, working on tricks like you are doing. She got over most situations pretty quickly. Just be no-nonsense, calm and non reactionary yourself and she’ll follow! Great work!!

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