Stubbornness, a family trait

July 2011

Apparently, after three months of puppy bliss, MJ has decided two things:

1. She will not walk on leash beyond the end of the driveway.

2. We’re not allowed to touch her feet.

Swell.

The foot thing we can deal with easily: a quick swipe of a towel disguised as belly rubs when she comes indoors from a damp walk.

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For nail trims, we hustle her over to the vet, where it takes three techs plus Mom and/or Dad to hold her down, where she struggles until she pukes. It’s more traumatic for us, though, because she’s wagging her tail and trying to give kisses the entire time. At least, that’s what the professionals tell us.

The walking thing is an entirely other matter. We ply her with her cheese. We speak to her excitedly. We’re fun. We’re silly. She peers at us with pity. She knows exactly what we’re up to, and she’s not having it. Zozo, on the other paw, is psyched and ready for action.

Unlike Zo, MJ didn’t arrive to us with anxiety about the world. Nothing phases her. And also unlike Zo, there was never an incident we could blame for her decision to dig in and pull back. One day, she just won’t budge. We trot happily through the gate, past the cars, down the driveway. The moment we veer left, she plops her rump down. We try going right, and she’s all, “what did I just say?”

Our furbaby cannot opt-out of walking on leash. We keep trying, switching up handlers and times of day and high value treats. She hunkers down at the edge of the driveway. “Your move, humans.”

We had definitely been considering sending the Miss to Olde Towne School for Dogs (OTSD), like we did with Zozo when his nerves got the better of him. I call and request an evaluation for MJ with our previous Trainer, Tim. If you’ve been reading this blog for a while, you know how that went. OTSD was a huge part of our lives with Zo, and we are thrilled that they LOVE all breeds and are able to fit us in pretty much right away.

We are referred to Kathleen, who turns out to be exactly what MJ needs. Kathleen allows MJ to be her goofy, adorable self, but she won’t take any of her crap. We tried to be stern, but really… sometimes you just have to call in a professional. She’s firm and fair and generous with liver treats and belly pats. She toughens up our little love bug. Kathleen also happens to be a pretty cool chick.

Thus begins the daily shuttling of the puppy to and from school. Our evenings are filled with homework and exhausted, snore-filled naps (not necessarily from the puppy).

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MJ is whip-smart. She struggles with sitting “like a dog” instead of lounging like a queen on a settee. She’ll down-stay, but she’d rather lean the back of her head against your knee so you can scratch under her chin. It turns out that she’s super-suspicious of large, potted plants. Random.

She and Zozo learn how to walk on leash beside one another and, if MJ’s on the outside, Doodle can walk for miles without freaking out at the noises and distractions of city life. That’s a huge improvement for him. If Zo gets ahead of her, MJ will pull and strain to catch up with him; we’re working on that.

But the best news is that we can get beyond the driveway and out into the neighborhood again. Two dogs. Two leashes. Combined, they outweigh me. Maybe we won’t run into any small woodland creatures.

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