Cali turned two recently, so by some definitions, she is an adult. I had this fantasy that, at age two, she’d “click in,” showing maturity and leaving behind the seemingly endless adolescent phase.
But all is not lost. She is showing signs of growing up.
For a couple of weeks now, she’s been trying very hard not to pull on the leash when we are walking to the park where we play every morning. She has excellent leash manners on most regular walks, but she’s so excited about the park that our morning walk there has been a constant struggle.
I repeatedly stop and ask her to stop pulling. She bounces into position next to me, then, within a few seconds, is out in front, pulling hard. As we walked, my patience would wear thin and my requests would grow sharper.
Then, a couple of weeks ago, I noticed that she wasn’t pulling so much as … well, vibrating. When Deni was here for a Thanksgiving visit, she asked why Cali was” bouncing like that.” Cali now walks out in front of me, but the leash is a bit slack and she bounces and quivers, and, every so often, moves back and walks next to me for a few steps. She is trying so hard not to pull.
Another sign of impending adultness is that she actually tried on her own, without being asked, to pick up her bowl after dinner this week. I’ve been trying to get her to do this, as Jana does, for months. The best she’s managed is to sort of lift it by one edge and drag it to my waiting hand. And that only happens if I have a really good treat in the other hand. But there she was — and, because of raging hotspots, she was wearing her cone — trying mightily to lift her bowl.
Finally, the best sign yet of maturity came yesterday. For a few months, every time our neighbors walk their dog, Ernie, Cali has barked madly at him. She does not bark when the people go by without Ernie. She is fine meeting Ernie in the parking lot or at the play yard, where they occasionally show up when we are there. But they walk Ernie a lot. Several times a day. And Cali has always done her crazy dog impression, barking her loudest, fiercest bark.
Until yesterday. Earlier, the other neighbors had returned from a walk with their two dogs, and both Cali and Jana let them know whose territory this was. I let them know how unacceptable their barking was.
About 15 minutes later, I saw Ernie and his people walking by. Dead silence from both dogs. Until I threw them a party. Good GIRLS! Lots of cookies!! Woo-hoo! When the trio came back from their walk, again, silence. This morning, again. Can it be that she has finally learned??
It’s easy to get frustrated at our dogs. And to assume that they know what we want them to do (or not do) and are disobeying out of spite. Or general badness. How many times have I told Cali that she’s the “baddest dog in the whole #$&^ town”?
But she’s not. And chances are, your dog isn’t either. They are trying. But it takes a lot of maturity and self-restraint to follow human rules that make no sense in a doggy world.
3 thoughts on “Growing Up”
Another excellent article! So proud of you, Cali, and Jana and it’s fun hearing about all as I walk in very similar shoes with Alexis 🙂
What a lovely piece of writing! Totally agree…dogs don’t understand our human rules and need to be helped to understand (I always think of it as us being their ambassadors). Yay for positive reinforcement raining down on yours when they made the right choice!
What a great point. I think many people assume that dogs not only immediately figure out what we humans want them to do but know how to do it. They don’t and we new to be better teachers and more patient owners.