see the funny side...
sept 16 - 22
On Leinster road west this morning a woman came across the road to talk to Karl and me. She complimented me on how well the dog is trained. She said that her sister has a Boxer and is amazed to hear that my young dogs walk so well on the lead.
When I said that the first year is hard work but that you reap the rewards for the rest of their life she replied and ‘so does the dog’. I straddled Karl so he would not be tempted to jump and he behaved impeccably. I told her that having two makes all the difference to me. I can’t let them off the lead because they will jump on people. This would be a serious draw back with this breed if I only had one dog. So they can’t run free in the park but they certainly run wild in the garden. She said that Karl doesn’t look like a dog who is missing out on anything.
After we left her I found myself thinking how good that compliment made me feel. It’s so uplifting when someone acknowledges something that I’ve put a lot of work into. It’s certainly a rarity. I was glad I thanked her for her encouragement. I wanted her to know just how much it meant.
Karl off-loaded in the middle of Zion road this evening! I didn’t know what to do. Looked around to see if there was a safe place where I could tether him while I cleaned up between cars. Nowhere. Would have to attempt the clean-up with Karl. Traffic was building up. Signalled for them to go. Knew that all I could do was try my best once the coast was clear. It was dangerous. In the middle of the road, holding Karl and feverishly trying to clean. Looking around. Cleaning. Looking around again.
Afterwards I thought of the many blue chalk circles with ‘DOG DIRT’ written in capitals on Brighton avenue. I wondered if the writer was here would they have put a blue chalk circle around what I could not clean? Undoubtedly there is a lot of dog fouling where there is no impediment to cleaning. It's just that sometimes it is very challenging to do the right thing.
Karl had such fun with the leaves in the lively breeze this morning. This would have been a day when I would not take him out because of the danger he would present to himself, to me, to others. The ‘Canny Collar’ has changed all that. I try to strike a balance between Karl having fun and general safety. I remember the way people who could ride difficult horses would give and take. I try to adopt this policy with Karl. When it is safe for him to frolic with leaves I let him at it. When we are near the road or others I restrain. He hears me even when he is fixated on a whirl of leaves coming his way. This reassures me.
Karl loves his walk. Yesterday when we walked out together there were umpteen obstacles to navigate. Today it was almost without issue. I try to listen to my dog. Be vigilant and spot the potential hazards before they happen. Some days this is easy. Other times it seems like everything possible to get him going presents.
see the funny side...
sept 09 - 15
Worse still is when circumstances are such that little can be done about it. I’m six months short of sixty with a very strong dog. Out there we are doing our best. I talk to him as we walk. I try to lead in challenging situations. Most of all I feel the bond between us whatever the day brings. At the heal of the hunt that’s what we depend on.
A man called across Rathgar avenue to Karl this morning. He said that he had Boxers for years. ‘He’s full of beans’ I said. ‘All he wants to do is play. For him, life means play’. He concurred enthusiastically. I added ‘He doesn’t know anything about aggression’. The man heartily agreed. I remarked ‘People often think he is aggressive though’. He said that was so much his experience too. He was walking a small brown curly-coat dog. I think he missed his Boxers just then!
What a lovely September day! Just a few leaves on the ground. Met two men walking three small dogs between them. One commented ‘having to wear a hat in September says a lot’. I replied ‘it’s been a very good year’. We set out about 1030 hours yet Karl was feeling the heat. I find myself thinking about people who move to Spain with their dogs. I wonder how the dogs adjust to the considerably warmer weather there. Of course some dogs are more suited than others. I read recently that Huskies struggle even in our climate. They seek refuge in cool basement areas when the weather is warm here.
see the funny side...
sept 02 - 08
Thinking about what I saw on Rathfarnham road yesterday lunch time. A man was cycling on the footpath on the other side of the road. A Husky-type dog was running behind him off-lead with a torn tennis ball in his mouth. The dog off-loaded on the pavement. The man watched from a distance on his bike. Then the dog lost his tennis ball out on to the busy road. The man shouted at the dog. Shortly after, a couple with a child almost walked into the off-load. Suddenly, the man cycled across the busy road calling the dog to follow. Apart from anything else, just imagine the impact of all of this on Karl!
On our way home from the river we met the woman from Brighton road without her pair of Golden Retrievers! It felt strange to see her alone. The three of them present such a harmonious sight. Almost a sense of safety in the world. The dogs are at home together, contented after their daily walk. She is free to do her own thing now.
The compliments poured in on Karl this morning! There was the woman and child on Greenmount road who called across how handsome he is. Later, on Rathfarnham road a woman stopped to comment on his deportment. I watched him rise to the occasion. So pleased with himself. Wagging his tail. As we parted she added ‘he must be hard to manage’. I replied ‘He is very strong. I’ve trained him as well as I can. I use the Canny collar. We have established a solid bond. I depend on that’!
The comment made by the woman on Brighton road with two Golden Retrievers on Sunday sits with me now. She said ‘you either love them or you don’t’. The decision to care for any animal needs to be underpinned by commitment to succeed. This is most especially true for dogs and horses who need regular exercise. This means finding a way through the unexpected issues that arise to create a sense of stability so that the animal feels safe and secure. The most important thing to any living creature is to feel loved for the character that one is.
see the funny side...
aug 26 - sept 01
It was the perfect walk with Kirstin. So rare for nothing challenging to happen. A sunny evening with a gentle breeze. The world seemed to be relaxed into Saturday. Kirstin walked along happily by my side. The river ambled peacefully by. The quiet myriad of trees behind seemed to stand still. Kirstin drank all of her water in the grassy area off the road. Nothing interrupted her. Nothing excited her. I thrived on the harmony of it all. Wondered if something would happen to spoil it. The bars and cafes in Rathgar were teaming with life on our way home. Young girls were dressed up for a night out. There was a certain sense of expectation. Only when we went in the front gate could I declare it a perfect walk. Life is mostly messy. Sometimes, occasionally, it can turn out perfect too!
We haven’t seen him for a while. Today we met on both walks. Kirstin’s favourite dog who lives on the Rathfarnham road. I enjoy observing the difference in the exchanges. Karl and he are respectful to each other. They sniff around. Each staying to his side of the tall black railed gate. When it comes to Kirstin there is a display of warmth and affection at play. They both stick their faces through the space between the rails and rub each other. The look in their eyes is different. There is a sense of 'this is special' about it all. Can’t help thinking it’s so easy to know where you stand with animals!
Thinking about my dogs usual response to heavy trailer traffic again when walking out yesterday. Raised by a busy city road. Street sounds are part of the fabric of life here. Conversations. Arguments. Buses. People outside the pub. Ambulances. Fire Brigades. The flow of life happens without going out at all.
So what is it about heavy trailer traffic that unhinges them somewhat? The clanking of metal. The shakiness of the two parts together. The ungainly movement. The heaviness of it all. Of course the sound is amplified in their sensitive ears. Probably sounds like a monster!