Howling Hill recommended that I read Cesar Milan’s books on dog training to help with Stella, and it was a fantastic suggestion. All the Dog Whisperer stuff has been so hyped, and I tend to be skeptical of anyone who is selling posters of themselves, but I actually really like where he’s coming from, and just making some subtle changes in my mindset has made a huge difference with Stella. I am the pack leader.
I. Am. The. Pack. Leader. And as crazy as it sounds, when I think that and look at Stella, she pays attention. We’ve also been taking long walks, and I simply expect her to walk nicely next to me and not get all hyper about squirrels or garbage men, and for the most part, she complies. If she doesn’t, I stop and make her sit and we don’t walk again until she looks at me.
But here’s the problem: In the past two days, it’s gotten ridiculously icy out there. We had slush that froze, then snow, then freezing rain. And it’s pretty hard to be the confident pack leader when you’re absolutely terrified of falling and cracking your head open or re-breaking your tailbone. Stella can sense that fear, and when she does, she starts to pull, she stops paying attention, and she would rather follow Mr. Squirrel than me.
They almost never plow in our neighborhood, which is weird, because it’s not like we live out in the woods somewhere. We live in a very residential area. But they don’t plow or sand or salt the roads unless the snow is coming down in amounts that are measured in feet instead of inches.
Yesterday, I joked with J that I was going to get out my crampons since the ice on the street was an inch thick in places. Then, I remembered that I had a pair of Yak Trax in the garage somewhere. So now, Stella and I hit the sidewalk like we’re embarking on a polar expedition, and I’m learning to keep my fear response to a minimum when I do lose my footing.
I do have to say that Stella is turning into a nice little dog. I also have to say that given the events of of late (like the second trip to the vet for Argo’s tongue yesterday), the pack leader is in desperate need of a night out. I feel like the entirety of my focus for the past three weeks has been dogs, dogs, a burned hand, and more dogs. It’s a good thing those dogs are cute.