Sunday, July 17, 2005

Swerve. Daphne in the 'hood.

In June, I was invited to join an online writers' group. One of the requirements was to maintain a blog - hence this. Well one thing & another, I wasn't happy with the group, so I opted out. Just a mismatch, nothing heinous.
Anyhow so now I have the silly thing and I've been feeling guilty about letting it stagnate! So I've decided to let it ramble on for my own amusement and that of my little handful of regular readers.
So today's topic is Daphne in the 'Hood. Wherein Daphne learns not be terrified by rotting Halloween pumpkins and Alarming Tricycles.
At the "other" house with Dr Psycho, she was very much a house dog - huge area to run in, dog friends, a couch to sleep on at night. Apart from occasional rides and walks, she didn't get off the property much. New situations got her so stressed, it just seemed easier to ask little of her.
So I move to the 'hood right after Thanksgiving, in all that turmoil of the breakup. Aaron & Robbie came up for support. Everything changed, rather violently and abruptly. The dogs have a small fenced yard, and I decide for everyone's well-being to make daily walks a routine.
The first time I took Daphne out in the neighborhood, everything was like Yikes! Shit! What's that?! Halloween pumpkins. Kids' toys on the sidewalk. Barking ghetto dogs. Funny-looking gates. It all had her very, very concerned, and she peed a lot.
I did the recommended light hearted jocularity routine with all Scary Situations with her. Oh silly Daphne. It's just Mr Tricycle! Hello Mr Tricycle, how are you today? See Daphne? He means us no harm. Let's carry on, shall we? Anybody watching probably thought I was out of my gourd, though I don't suppose it matters much around here.
Now, I can even bike with her. She stays with the bike, and obeys when I tell her to ignore loose dogs trailing us down the street. She takes toys, funny-looking gates and everything else pretty much in stride. On walks, she stays with me without pulling. Even if she's 20' ahead of me on the long training leash, she'll stop and wait on command at the curb. Now we're working on "left" and "right" when she's up ahead. I think she's getting it.
If we stop to chat with someone, she mostly doesn't try to jump up on them, and she's sweet with children. If there's nobody in the park to get scared, she gets off leash to run and splash in Gilkey Creek.
Despite her difficulties, Daphne is still a pretty damn good dog.


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