Monday, July 27, 2009

Tension-Free and Me

I live in a very "high" state of being: stressed, motivated, competative. I rarely relax - even after sleeping I wake up with a stiff neck or jaw from what I can only assume are tense dreams? This wrecks havoc on my sleeping schedule, my health and I have discovered, my dogs. (I'm assuming also my husband, but that's a post for another day!) My brain was still foggy at 5:30 this morning and I sat down with my granola (YUM!) and my laptop for some internet browsing. After landing on, I watched one of the FREE (yay for free!) episodes of The Dog Whisperer. It was a great reminder for me that dogs are perceptive to their humans' emotions, body language and tone. (Sidenote: If dogs are this perceptive, what about the people we're in contact with every day?) I was inspired to hit the pavement. Before I tell you what happened this morning, let me relate the normal dog-walking routine:
1. Eric or I say in an excited tone: "Do you want to go for a WALK?" Of course, the W-A-L-K word is well-known around our house and once spoken, produces frenzies, jumping, play fights, etc.
2. We try to corral Sadie (the older and supposedly calmer one) and make her hold still long enough to lasso the harness around her neck and buckle at lightning speed. Nala will sit, lift the correct paw that goes through the harness and then lean to one side for buckling. She's amazing. I trained her.
3. Sadie picks up the middle of her leash with her teeth and swings her head violently from side to side. Yes, she whips herself in the face. Nala usually stands (semi) quietly while weound up the house key and doggie poo bags.
4. They tear out the door and down the stairs with us in tow. We then tramp back upstairs to shut the door that we were unable to shut in the mad dash for outside.
5. The walk itself consists of leaps after rabbits, straining against harnesses, lunging toward other dogs (that are across the street and three houses down) and a general shoulder stiffness (in my shoulder) when we return home.
We know we need to walk these beasts and usually have limited time to do it in. So, we've let ourselves be bullied into submission by 60-pound, four-legged creatures with less intelligence than a kindergartner.
However, this morning I had the energy to try the calm, assertive demeanor that my dogs really do need. After releasing my tension and stress, I calmly walked to the leash basket. Although both dogs saw me, they continued to sit. (I must admit, I was VERY surprised.) I then lifted out Sadie's leash. Remember, this is the one that won't sit long enough to buckle and whips herself. I only employed the trademark "sstt" once and she stayed! I slipped on the harness, buckled it and she didn't even touch the lease itself! Nala's "harness dressing" went as normal.
One of Cesar's BIG rules is: always cross the threshhold of your door BEFORE the dog(s). This establishes dominance before you even leave the house and encourages obedience from the start. A little tough to accomplish trying to hold two leashes and pull the door shut at the same time. However, I did it! And they were calm! (This is still a little surreal to think about - our dogs: calm!)
I wound one leash around each hand so that we would all be walking together and set off. On a normal day, this is what happens (note the outstreached arms and yelling):
(And no, I don't wear a skirt to walk the dogs, but stick-figure girls always have skirts, right?)

Today, miracle of miracles, this happened (Aerial view. Eric, check out Sadie's side! For everyone else, we make Sadie carry her own waste, of which there is a copious amount every walk.) :

It worked! By being calm and relaxed, I had the most enjoyable walkI've had in a long time! We passed rabbits, cats and other dogs. No lunging, pulling or crazed jumping. If a little calm can make this big of a difference in walking my dogs, just think what else could be impacted! And now, because I know you enjoyed this rare glimpse into my freehand artwork, one more for the road:


pat ve said...

What a good story. I didn't quite figure out the aerial view of the two dogs. Is Sadie on the right? Like your drawings. Perhaps I could go into graphic arts. Ha!

Girl from Pennsylvania said...

i love the art!

And the stories about your dogs!

Andi said...

OK that was too cute!! I love the story cuz I can just picture those 2 dogs! Love the pictures!! You are quite the artist!!

Anonymous said...

You cut your hair!
The secret word is "hanaus" as in,"Oh, my previous hair style was just hanaus, I had to get a new style!"