Monday, December 20, 2010

Between the Schnauzer and the English Cocker

What do you guys think I should do?
 There are times in the park when I feel as though there are really three dogs out there with me; my dog, a good dog, and a bad dog. Cadie is the neutral dog, and by neutral I mean easily swayed, the schnauzer is the bad dog, and by that I mean easily tempted to go it's own way; the English Cocker is the good dog, and by that I mean, most likely to obey commands. Before the Schnauzer people get all upset, I don't mean that schnauzers are bad dogs, but they have a strong independent streak, like all Terriers. The English Cocker on the other hand, seems to have no other purpose in life except to try to please it's owner. You know I love Terriers, but sometimes their independence is a bit of a liability. Let me explain.

In the past 2 weeks Cadie and I have been forced to eliminate 2 neighborhood parks from the list of parks we frequent, why? because without warning she'll take off after a squirrel; in the worst case, she nearly ended up underneath the tires of a big, white van. So I eliminated that park right off the bat, it's just too close to the road, and the squirrels are dare devils.

This last weekend Cadie showed greater restraint. The squirrels tempted her, but she stayed where she was, earning her a big mouthful of liver. I know that Cadie will follow her natural instincts, but again, this park is just too close to the street, so it's a no go.

The thing I find funny, in a scary way, is in that moment before Cadie's natural instincts take over she's completely conflicted. She does a couple of false starts, she hesitates, and even seems to turn her head from side to side, as if she's listening to two people talk. It reminds me of those old time cartoons where the devil sits on the left shoulder and the angel sits on the right, and they compete for the chance to guide the poor, lost soul's behaviour. Instead of angels and devils I see Cadie being torn between the natural instincts of two of her base breeds.

What did you say? I can go chase the squirrels?
 The Schnauzer, as we said, is independent, and likes to do things it's own way, so if a squirrel dares to run past it's path, the squirrel better be quick, because the schnauzer is unlikely to allow them to pass in peace. Also Schnauzers are very barky, Cadie is not a barky dog generally, but at the park, she has been known to be more vocal.

English Cockers on the other hand, are less independent, and tend to be more trainable, and follow commands more quickly. They were bred to work with people, and as a result they want to do their best to make their people happy. Cadie is very much a people pleaser.

So the scene at the park goes like this:

Me: Cadie come
Cadie shuffles her feet, looks from side to side, and back at me.
Cadie: ruff ruff
Me: shrugs. Cadie come.
Cadie shakes her head back and forth rapidly, the shaking moves back to the front legs, then shudders down her body, at one point every muscle is shaking back and forth. The shaking gradually stops, the front stops shaking first, until only the tail is still moving.
Me: Cadie. Right here! pointing at the spot on the ground between my feet
Cadie stares at me.
English Cocker: We have to go, that was a command. We have to go!
Schnauzer: you don't have to go, she already loves you, you don't have to do anything she says now.
EC: Yes we do, if we don't go, bad things might happen. Besides she has liver, I like liver.
Sch: yeah, liver's good, but not as good as catching one of those squirrels. Look at them, all smug, thinking they can get away from you. You should go and show them that you're the boss.
Cadie turns her head from side to side
EC: No. No. We should go, we were called.
Me: inching forward slowly so that I can put my foot on her leash. Cadie I said NOW!
Cadie dances a little and chooses either:

Option A: to come to me, get her liver, be a good girl, and stay longer in the park;


Option B: to ignore me and go after the squirrels.

Why are we leaving the park? What did I do?
I can't complain too much, she chooses Option A most often, but every now and then, she is lured by the persuasive Schnauzer, and takes off after those pesky squirrels. The outcome is a couple of very tense and frightening moments for me, and that, if I'm lucky enough to catch her alive, we leave the park as soon as I possible. She's always surprised by this turn of events. Oh Cadie, listening to that Schnauzer voice won't lead you to anything good.

Monday, December 6, 2010

A Milestone

Yes, this is my hundredth blog post. This blog, that started in February, just before the Olympics, is now 10 months old, and yes! has 100 posts. To celebrate, I took Cadie back to her two favourite dog parks Sherwood and Sunnybrook.

Friday was a great day for me, we knocked off work early, had a wonderful lunch at the Estates of Sunnybrook, and then I took advantage of the extra time by taking Cadie for a good long walk, and romp around Sherwood Park.

 It was the perfect day. Sunny and not too cold, and Cadie was able to play in the park for her usual hour in her favourite spots. But even with the early start, evening comes early in December, and the light is soon started to disappear, it was practically dusk by the time we left the trail at 4:30.

But, night also, must come to an end, and in the morning we headed up to the official off leash dog park at Sunnybrook. Again, the weather was beautiful, bright, sunny, and not too cold, despite the frost on the grass.

Normally I don't take Cadie's leash off in this park because she doesn't have the best recall there, but all the work we've been doing has paid off, and she came every time I called her, and soon her leash came off.

The morning wore on, and Cadie had had her fill of chasing balls, so we decided to spend some time exploring the foot trails that surround the park. This was a really nice treat. It was totally new scenery for me, and new smells for Cadie.

I've said it before, but I'll say it again, the weather was perfect, and Cadie confidently trotted along, super happy, seeing this walk through an urban park, as an adventure...that's right, an adventure on the end of a designer leash.

After a good play and a good walk, we headed back to the car, and then home, where we warmed up under a blanket, while drinking hot tea.

I hope you've enjoyed reading our 100th post, as much as we enjoyed living it!