So, today (09th December 2016) I was back at North Clwyd Animal Rescue to go walking again, I dont usually walk the same dog twice but following on from my last visit when I walked Alfie, I was curious to see how he was getting on, so I asked for him again.
I’ve had a tough couple of weeks in between, Ive just got over a bad cold and havent been out of the house much and was getting a bit down, on my way here I had thought about whether to walk Alfie again, or ask for a different dog, I really wanted to be out in the fresh air, for my own benefit.
Anyway, out comes Alfie, bouncing along, and off we go. As expected he had a poo and a wee as soon as we hit grass, so he’s still clean in his kennel.
This is the point where last week, he lost his confidance and wanted to go back again, but this week, having that expectation, as soon as he was done, I geed him up and said “Come on Alfie, lets go for a run!” with the idea of getting some energy into the situation to distract him from his own worries.
And off we went, jogging up the road – Alfie loves jogging! He runs like a dream – quite happy to run at my pace at the end of the lead in front of me, without excessive pulling.
I can’t run forever (or very far, come to that) so we slowed to a walk pretty soon, and his ears went back and became anxious again as he realised he was getting away from the kennels and his safety zone, and he turned to go back again. Once more I geed him up and set off running and he was fine, its just about giving him something else to think about at this stage to stop him worrying.
We got to the crossroads, which was as far as I could get him to go last time, and I gave him a biscuit, he sat and shook a paw without asking, then looked around a bit, so I set him off running again. He was a bit less confidant this time and looked around a couple of times, but was more into keeping the motion going as a stress buster, and when I had to stopp and walk again, he seemed to have gone past the worry zone and was OK walking with me.
He is such a wonderful dog! Such a difference in him from last time. He’s still nervous but improving, maybe because I wasn’t a complete stranger this time, and we had more of a dialogue going this time, I found myself talking to him all the time, and getting responses (I must stop calling him Sausage too). He was showing much more interest in his surroundings this time and wanted to a lot of sniffing. We saw sheep in a field, which he wanted to go and look at, so we did, I slipped into my routine of spending the first half of the walk letting the dog do what they want so I can observe, and then on the way back setting the tone more so I can see how they respond. I wasnt sure about his sheep reaction, he was excited to see them, but then wasn’t reactive when we got by the fence. Further up the road we passed a house with a barking dog inside, and he paused and got a bit worried trying to work out where the barking was coming from, when he was satisfied that nothing bad was going to happen, he was happy to walk again.
We went onto the grass verge at one point and I accidentally stepped on part of a fallen branch that flicked up at the other end, and the unexpected movement set him off into a panic – twice, so we walked on. I suspect someone else has got him out on my route before, because he kew where I wanted to go without me having to direct him, as he was walking in front by now instead of lagging behind like last time.
Past the house with the two big barking dogs in the window, he simply looked at them and carried on, then we found a chicken in the migddle of the lane, which he was very interested in and started pulling. The chicken ran back into its garden and Alfie got all bouncy and we spun round a few times, this was playful bouncy rather than wanting to chase and catch.
The I took a turning he wasnt expecting and he got anxious again, so I started him jogging to get through it and he settled down, a few minutes later we met a loose collie walking up the lane. I’m not keen on walking past farms with loose collies due to bad experiences in the past walking my own dogs, but I couldnt see how to avoid this one, Alfie was too busy listening to the rustling polythene sheets in the farmyard to notice, again, worrying asbout the noise and deciding whether to be frightened or not, so I paused until he turned and saw the other dog, so as not to surprise him. Luckily (for me) the collie was quite old and was on his way back to the farm, and was friendly – the two dogs approached each other nicely, both had confidant upright stance and wagging tails, and then stood cheek to cheek – I was busy reading their body language at this point to see if either went stiff, but Alfie went straight into play bowing and bouncing and wanting to run and chase, which was a bit too much for the old collie, and we spun round a bit with Alfie full of enthusiasm and the old dog wagging his tail and keeping just out of bouincing reach.
It was starting to get dark by this point, and I was soaked from the rain, so we headed back to the kennels again, Alfie wanted to do some more jogging – sometimes I jogged, other times I didnt, and he didnt push the point.
He’s so full of personality! Last time he was a big scared baby, this time he has grown into a toddler, I have no doubt at all that he can come across of big and bold with his wanting to play and get bouncy very quickly, but then to get himself into situations that he can’t handle aand end up running back crying if it goes pear shaped. I’m sure there is a bit of playful mischief in there but still be someones big soppy baby at the end of it.
By the time we got nearer to the kennels it was dark and I wasnt happy to have him walking in the road so I got strict with him, and found that he can actually walk to heel if you keep the pressure on. If this was included as daily training for him, he would soon get into the habit. He wasnt just walking by my side for this, he was close to heel against my leg. I think he knows more than I have discovered just yet.
I really cannot say enough good things about this dog. He has the potential to be perfect and full of character. He is affectionate, loves a fuss and a cuddle and is very easy to handle. Just got that problem of his excitement levels with wanting to play with other animals going from 0 – 10 very quickly, but then again, he is in kennels so this is to be expected to some extent until he is in a settled and stimulating home environment.
Today has been a rewarding day for me. Alfie is a great listener and had me smiling and laughing with him the whole time we were out 🙂
I was later told that he had started off at the kennels years ago as a terrified dog who wouldnt leave his kennel, he then got homed and lived with a cat, but now his owner has died he has come back – much better than before, but I think he will always be a nervous dog and will rely on training and having a confidant owner to bring the best in him. Ive ner seen any kind of aggression in his nerves, its always either trying to bolt ( last time I walked him) or to go back home where he feels safe.
Alfie is currently looking for a home, here is his profile on the NCAR site, ploease contact them if you are interested in visiting him