Happy spring equinox, everyone! I devoted the day to my dog and my garden in celebration.
My friend Miki and I took our dogs to Crissy Field this morning. I'd never been. The beach had a number of dog walkers, regular dog owners, and parents with little kids. I initially had Chimera on a long line, but I took a deep breath and let him loose.
He did way better than I expected! He still would run off farther than I'd like to greet new dogs, and I still can't call him away mid-greeting. (And if he ends up in a dog walker's pack, he has to greet every. single. dog. before he will return to me.) BUT if I called him after the initial greeting, he would run happily to me for a piece of fresh chicken. When there were little stretches of beach without dogs nearby, he would even heel next to me and do tricks! Now that really put a smile on my face - my dog choosing to play with me instead of running off to explore.
We drove back to Miki's and said hello to her family, and Cai greeted one of her cats without barking. Then we stopped by the pet store to get a new tag for his collar, as the old one was covered in so many teethmarks that it was hard to read. While the tag was printing, we practiced short distances of heeling with the goal of 100% focus. Then we practiced something new - heeling right up to something (like a shelf of products) and doing an about turn (again with 100% focus). After a few false starts and the help of the pocket hand, Cai got it. Finally I asked one of the male employees to stand still and let us heel around him, like an obedience post. Cai suprised me - he was perfect on this! He did not try to sniff the man's pant legs or even glance at him, even when we did the left turn. So I upped the ante and had the man hold a treat two feet above Cai's head while he sat, and then while we heeled. Cai glanced at it but then refocused on me. I was impressed by my little monster! I really need to up the ante with his training. He's ready for it!
We had one more stop one our way home, which was a plant nursery. I took Cai inside with me. He walked nicely beside the cart and didn't try to pee on any of the merchandise, but he did mark in two spots underneath outdoor tables. It was obvious where other dogs had marked before him - his nose would be glued to those areas.
I am so proud of my monster.