It is nearly 11am in Sydney Australia on a Thursday morning. I am sitting down to do some writing before my left arm seizes up completely and my finger turns purple. Why? Let me tell you.
Sydney is the land of the raincloud at the moment. Almost three weeks of rain every day means that we just need to accept that it’s wet outside and get on with life as normal. The lounge room looks like a laundry, and giant white puppies still need to be walked regardless of how wet their owners might become in the process. I made my son breakfast, got him to do his pocket money jobs, made sure he was clean and dressed, donned my sexy red gumboots and blue leaky raincoat and loaded son, dog, and self into the car for the start of another day. Son got off to school beautifully.
Yesterday we received in the mail from my Mother in the USA, a brand new shiny extendable dog lead. The giant white puppy is fantastic at walking on a lead. He has a thick, strong, shortish red one, and he and I have developed an understanding about him not tugging on it….most of the time anyway. I wanted to start teaching him to go further away from me and then come back when I call, so I thought an extendable lead would be a good way to do that without losing him completely. My mum kindly sent one from the USA because even with postage and handling, those sorts of things are half the price than here in Australia! So. Having set out from my son’s school, which is set in lovely parklands, giant white puppy and I began our ‘come’ training session. I had the treats on hand to reward him when he came back, and he seemed excited when he discovered that he could get a little bit of a run going. This dog weighs about 35kg. He’s not a fat dog. He’s a STRONG dog. He has a tendency towards getting a little excited when it comes to running…and mud, so I knew this wasn’t going to be a first session training solution. He took off…and nearly ripped my arm out of it’s socket! I did read the warnings on the instruction manual for the lead about this possibility and also the chance of losing a finger or four, so I should have been more prepared. With mild whiplash, I berated myself for being stupid and called him back. He came, he got his treat, and I let him out again. This time I concentrated more, and tensed my arm to keep it strong for when the pull came. I also tried to guess when the lead was going to end, and call him to stop before that point. I have never been great at guessing distances…
He pulled the lead right out of my hand the second and third times. Fortunately, I had enough tasty treats that he thought it was worth coming back to me when I called “COME!”. After that, he calmed down a bit and I got the hang of it, although my shoulder and neck may never be the same again! At the end of our hour walk through long grass and pouring rain, we hit the muddy wet area of the park. Giant white puppy decided this was a really good place to start getting extremely excited and playing jumping around, running away, and running back at me and play biting at me. I can handle this, as he’s quite careful when he does it. I guess the combination of the mud, the rain, the new freedom and the treats went to his head. He dashed off all of a sudden and kind of leaped through the muddy grass. I wasn’t ready for it, and the lead pulled really hard on my hand, almost breaking my finger (which is now nicely bruised). I let the lead go, realising that it was better to have him lost than lose my hand. He then continued to frolic around me in the mud while I tried to shout “STOP!” and “NO!” and “COME!” which he clearly found amusing. I then went stomping through the mud myself in order to try and stand on the lead, which was now being dragged through the mud and getting almost as muddy as the dog! Eventually (it really wasn’t that long, and he didn’t go very far, but it felt like he did!) he stopped and came back to me. He was of course now, no longer a giant white puppy, but closer to a kind of half grey/black from the mud all over him!
We walked back to the car, me with my sore hand and arm muscles starting to really ache. I knew that I would not get to rest yet though. I would now have to give the silly thing a wash. That brings me full circle to my current position. The dog is washed, (a funny vision to watch in itself, as I kind of trap him in the shower and wrestle with him to get the dirt off. An extremely tiring excercise only to be attempted by the very strong and fit!) I am sore, tired, and he is happily chasing and playing with a marble of my sons while he dries off.
I have learnt that the warnings on the packets of things really do need to be heeded. There is no way in any hell or earth that my son will EVER be allowed to walk the dog using that lead, and training silly puppies is not for the faint hearted!
Now I must go and clean the bathroom where he shook all his wet muddy doggieness, and perhaps I’ll get around to having a shower myself at some point! Well another shower, one with less dog smell 🙂