I am doing something new and would appreciate feedback. Once every few months, and I am not sure how often yet, I am taking each dog in the pack for solo walks with me. I think this really helps with the bonding process, with the need for each dog to feel special (which each dog always is) - just to have that one-on-one time.
This week Buckley had his day alone with me, which was today, and he spent his 90 minutes swimming and hiking, his tail wagging the entire time! I just feel it was a very special time.
All I had to do was rearrange the time of the other dogs today. I will have to go back and bring one out for a later pee and play break, but that is no problem and well worth it.
I would really appreciate your thoughts.
Thanks and have a great weekend!
To the fine parents of our Happy Trails Dogs,
Just a short note about dog licenses - this past Thursday, we had a bit of a scare with one of our dogs scurrying under a boulder at Humber Bay Park. The city was incredible! Two animal control trucks arrived; three workers dug and moved rocks for perhaps two or more hours; and the police arrived via boat. Had we needed additional help, the fire department would have been called!
The sweet pup we were searching for had found her way into a crevice, but could not find her way out; the exit slope was quite muddy and deep underground. A loud whoop went out from all involved when our Belle was finally retrieved!
Heartfelt thanks to Swagger, Frida, and the amazing puppy Maize who waited patiently, sitting, sometimes softly crying, as the workers struggled to free Belle. Swagger and Frida were able to locate Belle's exact location and they never wavered from their watch.
Sasha, Zorro's human, also helped in the effort. He stayed for the whole time, helping, and comforting. Another fine individual, Rita, and her boxer Bonsai stayed as well. These fine dog lovers and their sweet dogs never wavered in their watch. Heartfelt thanks to Sasha, Zorro, Rita, and Bonsai!
The boulders at both Humber Bay East and West are truly hazardous ground for small, inquisitive dogs. Our Belle will now remain on leash at these locations, and although I do love trails, there are those dogs who may be in danger while they enjoy their freedom. (This fox terrier is an alert, bright, playful dog with a most amazing sense of smell and instinct to match!)
Another note - please make sure your pup has his/her Toronto Dog License and that it is up to date. The fee is $25 (for neutered or spayed pets). Here is the link: http://www.toronto.ca/animal_services/licensing.htm#01
I am looking forward to sending news of a sweeter nature (although this ending was thankfully a happy one) as your dogs and I continue our explorations! I love them all!
We are all glad our Belle is safe and resting this weekend after her ordeal!
A letter from Swagger's mom to me -- one month ago, Swagger came to me with a muzzle on. Here he is today!
"I had him off leash this weekend for the first time. This saturday my cousin and I went for a dog walk with Swag and his dog Buckley (a big happy go lucky blonde shepherd lab mix) and I was super hesitant about letting him off but he was amazing at greeting other dogs, humans and running around with Bucks. I saw how far he has come Janice and it took my breath away.
Absolutely he still has a long way to go. Thanks you so much for getting him to this point!Have a great day Janice and thanks for caring about him as much as you do. He is a lucky boy!"
I gave Swagger the opportunity to run on a trail and across large spaces. I truly expected him to be able to shed his fear-based aggression. I loved him from the start, as did my sensitive lab, Frida. I think Swagger knew we trusted and loved him, and he responded by making magnificent leaps every day.
Our popular Swagger is the individual holding the stick.
Story to follow.
Within one month, an aggressive dog becomes the most popular dog of the pack!
I adore this dog! And from the start I felt if he were on the trail and gently meeting dogs during the course of the hike, he could be muzzle-free. In an environment unlike the one (dog park) in which he was attacked, he might roam and explore without the muzzle's constraints.
My Frida seems to know (as dogs often do) which dogs are friendly and which dogs to be wary of. From the start, she had a fondness for S. and his playful ways. They both play in the wrestling lab way, although S. loves a good run!
Today, alone with Frida in the car, S. did not wear a muzzle. And for the first time, at the park, he met other dogs when he was wearing his collar without the muzzle attachment. He was wonderful -- smelling, taking his time, and learning how to be sociable.
I was always nearby, of course. But he was so happy! I didn't know he loves to swim! He did swim out to Frida's stick every time and she was quite gracious. I don't expect they'll do much swimming this winter. Still, it was so warm today and they were so eager!
An update on S. who is happily muzzle-free! From S.'s initial reaction to my lab Frida, I had a feeling he could be peacefully muzzle-free on the trail. As seen in the previous post, he and Frida are wonderful friends. Here are some more photos of S. and Frida at Humber Bay East today.
I am not sure S. would have been this relaxed at a traditional off-leash dog park. His memories of an attack on him by two aggressive dogs might be activated and his behavior altered. But here in a wide open space with water all around, he was sociable and happy. I was so thrilled for him!
I do watch carefully to see if other dogs, not known to S. are approaching and on such occasions, I put his muzzle on (offering him a treat after). His play with two new friends was so joyful; I really wanted to remove the muzzle, but held back. As S. gets used to Frida and other compatible dogs, he will be able to enjoy his hikes free of the constraints of a muzzle.
He's a lively, happy, loving dog who is watchful now because of an attack. I want to uproot these memories, but planting one of free open running and playing on the trails and surrounding countryside.
I am so proud of him!
Janice is the founder of and primary caregiver at Happy Trail Dogs Service. She is also the founder of an arts-related non-profit and worked in the fitness industry for over two decades. She is an artist, editor, writer, and mother of two wonderful women and a glorious lab named Frida.