Thursday, December 29, 2011

walking the dog

Walking the dog.......lots of people do it.  For some it is a necessity due to nature calling, high energy pups, or daily routine.  For others it is pure pleasure.  Peace of mind.  A time to gather thoughts and bond with the one or two creatures (or more....I mean have you met my sister) who love you most.  For me, it is necessity one day and pleasure the next.  Usually depending on the weather, the motivation, or just the mood of the day. 

Lincoln started out as a puppy who just wouldn't walk.  When he joined our family in July, he was almost 3 months old, and hadn't seen much of a leash in his short life.  He came from a breeder in Manchester, VT, where he ran with his brother, Milkshake (love it!), in the back yard of a family with a half a dozen children.  Free to roam with a pair of eyes to watch at all times.  Those first few weeks, a walk with Lincoln would last less than a minute before he would be belly down, usually in the shadiest spot he could find. 

Now being a 20-something girl, who really wanted a baby but settled for a puppy, I bought The Dog Whisperer's book, How To Raise the Perfect Dog.  From the time Lincoln, formerly known as Charlie, came home from the breeder, Andrew and I followed everthing The Whisperer told us to do.  We even chose him from the two puppies who were left the way the book told us to.  We were told not to choose a puppy with high energy or the pack leader, because these types of dogs would be harder to train and less likely to be "calm, submissive."  Well...we only had two to choose from, so Charlie it was.  We asked many questions and it sounded like Milkshake, who broke out of the pen first and laid Charlie flat in the grass while playing, was not the one for us.  Good ole Charlie, calm, submissive, crying the entire ride home! 

Anyway...Charlie became Lincoln.  Named after our road and his very first home away from home.  The Whisperer made it very clear two walks everyday were important in the bonding, training, and tiring out of our pup.  But I just couldn't seem to find a solution in this book for a dog who literally wouldn't walk.  Apparently he may be uncomfortable with the area.  So we took little walks at first, very frustrating little walks.  After about a month of walking the same road over and over, I knew this was no longer the case.  There isn't much that changes on roads out in the Creek.  He had to be getting used to it.  I began bringing cat food, his most favorite thing on the planet, and tempting him to move ahead with it.  Swiping it in front of his nose til he caught the scent and jumped up toward me.  As he got used to the swipe and move forward routine, I started to just use my hand without the cat food and that seemed to keep him going a tad bit longer.  To say the least....the first walks with Lincoln included no peace of mind, birds chirping, thoughts running free kind of feelings.  I was just glad it was summer and I was home from work to.....yes.....TEACH this dog how to take a walk. 

Fall came and Lincoln got bigger, much bigger!  And, I can't tell you when or how it happened, but that dog, he started walking.  We would go farther and farther on Waites Hill.  He did find some things along the way that would make us have to turn back every now and then.  For example, cars, cows, ducks, road signs, pieces of plastic laying on the side of the know....very frightening things!  He seems to gain energy (in other words pulling-power)  as we get closer and closer to home.  There's many a time when Andrew or I end up running with him the last few yards to the house.  There's no place like home.

Today, Lincoln loves a good walk with his two favorite people in the world.  We are able to take different routes, with very frightening things along the way, and our calm, submissive boy fights through and keeps trudging on.  He still loves the walk home more than venturing out and picks up speed as the scent of the farmhouse draws him near.  On walks with Lincoln I have learned more about my surroundings, grown closer to my husband, gained patience, ran into family traveling back roads, met my neighbors and learned their dog stories, cleared my mind, written parts of songs that will probably never be finished, taken pictures of farmlife and small town happenings, watched snow sparkle like glitter as it fell, listened to favorite tunes, and bonded with my dog.

Lincoln and I are due for a walk later....but to Tractory Supply with my dad first.

Happy feelings!

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