(Meadow and Tony a.k.a T-bone)
Our nine-week-old foster puppy Tony has officially started leash training. Yesterday morning we attached a slim, lightweight rope to his collar and initially just let him drag it along. We didn’t try to hold the leash or guide him. We just let him get used to it being there.
Tony scampered behind us on the paved Springfield Greenway, rump waddling back and forth as he tried to keep up with the pack. Tony wears an ink-black, thick and poofy coat – maybe some sort of poodle mix – and gets hot fast, even in thirty-degrees; after a quarter-mile his baby-pink tongue hung to the side.
At first he was ferocious with his new leash, grabbing and shaking it like he was taking down his archenemy. But eventually he gave up trying to kill it and started carrying the red sinister string in his mouth instead. Once or twice I caught him barking at it.
It was a cold gray morning, but Tony didn’t care. In his world the sun never stops shining. When he’d pause to sniff something of interest (and there’s a lot of interesting things for a puppy on a rural greenway,) he’d lag behind for ten to twenty yards, then tuck back his ears for the least air resistance possible and sprint full throttle to catch up.
None of the other four dogs we had with us were thrilled about walking beside T-bone because, like everything, he tried turned walking into a game, and he’d jump at their necks, legs, and ribs with his sharp piranha-like teeth gleaming white.
At one point he leaped at Meadow, latched onto her neck, and clung to her hair, literally hanging completely in the air. Meadow is a patient dog, but enough being enough, she reprimanded him with a low menacing growl and a sharp nip. He yelped but we ignored him, letting the pack teach him his boundaries without interfering. The dogs do it better than us anyway. Mason and I have to repeat rules in our awkward human language a bazillion times, but the pack reprimands Tony once, and he listens.
After a good mile or so, occasionally, I’d pick up the leash and hold it, letting him walk right beside a hound-mutt Rosie, who gets all serious when she migrates, and like Meadow, wasn’t putting up with an ounce of Tony’s silliness.
Tony would act great for a little while, black fluff ball trotting alongside the big dogs. Then he’d realize he was attached to my hand and start yanking and pulling. I’d drop the leash until he got his groove back, then try again.
This went on for the entire four miles; all in all, we – woman and puppy – probably walked in tune for only about 1000 feet. The good news is that when Tony got home from his first leash-training session, he took a solid two-hour nap. Every once in a while he’d jerk his tiny paws, like he was dreaming about walking with the big dawgs.