Final weekend, my husband and I took our practically 6-year-old canine, Woody, with us on a backpacking journey. We joined eight of his pals, all of whom he’s identified since grammar faculty or highschool; that they had began a day earlier than us and we joined them at a particular Sierra Nevada lake by prearrangement.
We left behind Otto, who, at practically 14 years previous, is not invited to this type of journey, to his deep dismay. Otto knew what was occurring when the backpacks and sleeping baggage and tent have been taken out of their storage closet – and he saved placing himself in our paths as we loaded the packs into our automobile. His coronary heart is prepared, however his arthritis says, “Not this time, man.” (His countenance cheered fully once I drove him to my sister’s home; he loves staying there, for a number of days not less than.)
Woody’s agility and confidence in any footing is astounding.
We’ve taken Woody tenting solely as soon as earlier than that I can keep in mind, about 4 years in the past. It’s unusual, as a result of Otto has been tenting many instances in his lifetime, however for no matter causes, up to now 5 years – most of Woody’s lifetime – we have now largely camped in Nationwide Parks (the place canine should not allowed on trails) or we camped as a part of an extended highway journey that additionally concerned climate that’s unfriendly to a canine in a automobile. And this was the primary time he has been backpacking with us.
There’s an expression, “To understand a light-weight, you need to take it into darkness.” I undoubtedly respect a few of Woody’s optimistic attributes extra right this moment than I did earlier than final weekend – and am extra conscious of 1 factor that we have to work on extra.
What Woody does nicely
This canine’s recall is rock-solid. He will be off-leash at any distance, and even when distracted with one thing as thrilling as a chipmunk chirping from a close-by tree, will flip and RUN towards me at a touch of a whistle.His “leave-it” habits is terrific (I exploit the cue “Off”). Whether or not I needed him to cease making an attempt to lick somebody on the face round camp, to avoid some greenish water in a creek, or to disregard the barking canine who was tied to a tree within the campground the place we left our automobile, I might say “Off!” as soon as and he would instantly cease what he was doing and look to me for reinforcement.His athleticism and agility are astounding. He’s totally assured in his means to go anyplace and do something we’re doing, together with scrambling up or down granite rock faces and discovering methods round cliffs. Each Otto and my final canine, Rupert, would get whiny and shaky if the footing ever received slippery, however a slip or momentary slide doesn’t appear to trouble Woody within the slightest.Woody’s belief in me is extra full than every other canine I’ve owned. As soon as, throughout a day hike to a different lake, we discovered ourselves on a cliff that was too steep for Woody to slip down and too excessive to permit him to leap off of. I climbed down first and stood on a rock on the cliff base, and requested him to inch to the sting towards me. I used to be in a position to pull him into my arms after which move him to my husband, who lowered him to the bottom. He accepted all of this with out a fuss or concern about his security. Most canine I do know would have struggled or tried to leap; he simply relaxed and allow us to assist him.He was a champion with the opposite canine who was on the journey – a canine about his age whom he had by no means met earlier than. The canine’s proprietor warned us that the canine wasn’t all the time “good” with different canine, however I’ve confidence in Woody’s judgment and self-control; he’s a greater decide of canine habits than I’m! He defused and deflected each little bit of barely aggressive habits the opposite canine displayed – and even higher, saved up a goofy, playful demeanor that quickly received the opposite canine to play chase video games round camp.We rapidly discovered that this different canine doesn’t eat a lot when he’s not at house – however that didn’t imply he needed anybody else to eat his meals. He would guard an space about 30 ft in diameter round his meals from Woody. In distinction, my chow-hound has ZERO worries about consuming in unusual locations or consuming unusual issues; he completely knew the place the opposite canine’s meals was and would calmly go assist himself to the meals any time the opposite canine was distracted – and would simply as calmly depart the world when the opposite canine noticed what was taking place and would come working again to protect no matter Woody had left behind. (Okay, that is sort of a jerk transfer, however what I appreciated was that as a lot as he likes meals, and was motivated to sneak and steal some at any time when it was unattended, he wouldn’t battle about it with the meals’s proprietor.)As soon as, on a day hike away from our major camp, a bit of canine owned by another backpackers ran as much as him in assault mode, snarling and snapping. Woody ducked and dodged and went into tremendous goofball mode, racing about as if the canine had truly simply requested him to play “chase me.” The little canine’s homeowners regarded aghast at their little canine’s “assault” on my huge pitbull-mix, however I assured them that no hurt was achieved. I so respect his expertise at defusing different canine’ reactive habits.He sought consideration and petting from each particular person he met, and was equally comfy with all of them, from those who’re self-described “canine folks” to those who perhaps don’t like canine that a lot. Nonetheless, this pleasant response all the time comes a second after this subsequent factor….
Taking a day hike over granite to a different lake for fishing, we had to assist Woody over some steep ledges and a cliff. He accepted the assist in a relaxed method.
What Woody Isn’t Good At
I don’t want bullets for this, as a result of there’s actually only one factor that Woody must work on:
I feel he can’t see nicely; he doesn’t appear to acknowledge ANYONE at a distance, and his preliminary habits on the sight or sound of an approaching human into our camp (and even on the path) was fearful and defensive. Each time a member of our social gathering left camp, even only for a second’s aid behind some bushes, Woody would growl at them and run towards them together with his hair up as they returned. Ay yi yi! Nothing like 70 kilos of an athletic, big-headed canine to come back working towards you growling! He even did this a time or two to my husband!
Happily, none of our pals was afraid of canine and all of them rapidly trusted that Woody wouldn’t chew them. They’d every say “Hey Woody!” as he approached them – and as quickly as he was inside, you recognize, biting distance (canine assist us) he would instantaneously rework into his traditional wiggly, waggy self, as if to say, “OH HI! I believed you have been a monster for a second, however you’re a human! How nice! I really like people!”
This can be a TERRIBLE habits (the growling, hair-up method, not the transformation into Mr. Wiggles) and I used to be and am embarrassed about it.
This isn’t precisely a latest improvement. It’s been a persistent habits that I’ve labored on with Woody ever because it first appeared, when he was an adolescent. I’ve labored for years to counter-condition his response to the sudden arrival of strangers on our property, and I credit score that work for the way rapidly he converts his preliminary alarm to a joyful greeting, as soon as he ascertains that the arrival of the human shouldn’t be a menace. At house, the habits isn’t actually an issue; if my sister or one in all my pals walks by means of my gates and down my driveway towards my workplace, and he goes working towards them barking together with his hair up, they know to simply name to him, “Woody, it’s me!” The second he acknowledges their voices, he races off to discover a toy with which to attempt to entice them into play. (And, after all, if it’s an uninvited stranger who comes strolling by means of my gates and onto my property, I’m going to let the imaginative and prescient of Woody bounding towards them barking sluggish them up for only a second earlier than I name him again; he’s our first line of safety, and so they don’t must know that he’ll probably bounce up and lick them as soon as he is aware of they aren’t a menace.)
Exhausted! Woody napped onerous in between swims and mountaineering.
However out on the earth, particularly off-leash in our tenting web site within the woods, the habits appeared as extra anti-social than I would like my canine to seem. So once I was near him, I’d name him again to me or say “Woody, Off!” (which might additionally make him come again to me), and he all the time responded. However there have been quite a lot of instances that we have been separated or I used to be speaking to somebody and one other particular person would stroll in on the far finish of our tenting space and I’d hear one other “WOOF!” adopted by “Hey Woody! Good boy!”
I’ll be speaking to coach pals about what I can do to enhance this response to the sight of “strangers” – or ought to I be consulting an optometrist?!
No canine is ideal, however we have now a accountability to the individuals who come into contact (or close to contact) with our canine to maintain them feeling protected, and I nonetheless have some work to do on that entrance with Woody of the Woods.
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