Tag Archive | gentle leader

Some Days are More Blessed than Others

Um, you should not be on the chair!!!

I arrived a little early and realized that I should have put the gentle leader on Lila before I left the house. I forgot how much she can pull me when she doesn’t have it on. Lila saw all the people and dogs standing up on the little knoll waiting for the priest to arrive. We jogged over to be among the crowd. (Jogging was Lila’s idea.) Lila greeted some of the other dogs, and calmed down for a little bit. It’s funny how she gravitates towards dogs that look just like her. An older set of black labs could not see what Lila was so excited about.

When Father arrived, Lila decided it would be a good time to make a wild dash towards the planter that decorates the side of the entrance to the church. I wasn’t prepared and got a little gash in my hand from trying to hold her back. If only she had her gentle leader. When we got to the planter, I didn’t see what the big attraction was.

“Come, Lila,” I said.

“Oh, she listens,” said Father. Everyone seemed to be pleased about that, and I heard a few of their chuckles.

We went back to our spot, and I noticed that our cousin, Laura, and her two dogs, Choco and Mortie, had arrived.

“Thank you for inviting us,” said Laura with a hug. I was happy to meet little Mortie. Laura and Paul adopted him the day before from the Animal Humane Society. Laura talked about how great their experience was there. They had been looking for a dog on the website for a couple of weeks, and found Mortie’s picture, went to take a look, and now they have an addition to their family!

“This is Choco’s first blessing too,” said Laura.

“I brought Music to be blessed a long time ago. I didn’t think Father had blessings for the animals any more, but then I heard about it at church this morning. I knew I had to bring Lila,” I said. Music, our first dog, was the type of dog that growled and snapped at other dogs. Music seemed calmer than usual at her blessing, and after she was splashed with the holy water, she relaxed even more. When I heard about the blessing that was coming up, I knew I had to bring Lila.

Father started the ceremony in honor of St. Francis, and Lila was more excited than calm. Lila stayed close by but wandered about to get a few more good sniffs here and there and jumped up randomly for no reason.

A young girl recited a reading, and Father talked about what a blessing it is to have pets in our lives and how God trusts us to take care of them. We prayed our pets would stay healthy, be protected from harm, and we said the “Our Father” together. Everyone spread out to make more of a circle, when Father got ready to bless the animals. I didn’t get splashed with the holy water, but I hoped Lila did.

After the blessings were over, Laura and I chatted a little while longer. It was nice to learn that Mortie and Choco are getting along pretty well, and Laura reported that Mortie appears to be house trained, which is a blessing too!

I was glad that Lila was excited to be blessed even though she hasn’t changed a bit. Going to the blessing was a good reminder of how I feel blessed to have Lila in our lives even though some days are more blessed than others!


Gentle Leader Saves Life

Lila can act very dramatic about wearing her gentle leader even though she is very excited about seeing it, at first. When I fasten the gentle leader around her snout, she accepts this routine because she knows that we will be going for a walk. After we head outside, Lila rubs her face in the first patch of grass she finds. She bends down with her rear in the air and walks and slides one side of her face in the grass. Then she flips her head and rubs the other side. Little pieces of grass and dried up leaves stick to her head and in her collar. She then shakes off the grass probably hoping to shake off the gentle leader as well. By now I thought she would have figured out that there is no way for her to get it off.

“Lila, it won’t come off,” I reminded her. “Let’s go.” She sneaks a quick peek at me, accepts her fate, and off we go. It has been a while since I used the gentle leader because last winter it drove me batty when she slid her face in the cold and icy snow. During this walk, it was nice how she mostly stayed right next to me. A few times she swaggered in front of me and I almost fell over her, but most of the time she didn’t pull. Not being pulled by a 70-pound dog for a three-mile walk is a good thing for both of us.

I wondered if she huffs and puffs and sticks out her tongue as far as it can go to see if it will aggravate me enough to remove the thing or if Lila wants to see how other walkers will react to her clowning around. The people we met along the path looked at her in a very concerned manner. Then they dug stares into me as if I was torturing my dog. I always say, “Hello” and act as if my dog is perfectly fine even though she might look as if she has rabies at the time.

Just as I was about to give up and remove the thing because I felt bad for her, her entire demeanor changed the minute she heard a rabbit rustling about in the woods. Suddenly her breathing was normal, her tongue was tucked inside her mouth where it should be and she puffed up as if she had been commanded to stand at attention. I waited for her to watch the rabbit for a while, and the minute I said, “Come on, let’s go,” the huffing and puffing started up again, and the longest tongue in the world practically fell out of her mouth.

The park where we walked that day has many trees. Along the way I peeked to see if I could look through the thickness. Worn out logs have fallen in the woods and some greener branches hung loose from recent storms. There are a few bridges that go over the creek, and Lila took a dip to cool off just before we headed for home.  As we turned the corner to see our house, Lila got close to a rabbit, and got away from me. She chased the rabbit from one side and then to the other side of the church in front of our house with her leash bouncing off the ground behind her. The prickly needles of the pine trees did not bother her as she dashed around the branches. I imagine the rabbit’s little heart could have burst out of its chest from all the excitement. Luckily for all of us, even though Lila is a fast runner, the rabbit was faster or did not get grabbed because Lila was wearing her gentle leader.

I got Lila’s attention by offering her a treat inside the house, and now the rabbit is fine. I wonder if the gentle leader saved that rabbit’s life.  It’s amazing how fast Lila can run while being tortured by her gentle leader.  They don’t call it gentle for nothing!

This is part of the Saturday morning blog hop.  To get your link, click here.

Why My Dog is a Drop Out

When we first got Lila, we realized that she probably should have some type of dog training because she didn’t even know the command “sit.”  The Animal Humane Society (AHS) offered classes at a discount for people who adopted their pets there.  So, I signed us up. 

Before bringing Lila to training, there was a class for the humans to attend without the dog.  The instructor gave tips on how to train your dog not to pull when you walk with them.  We also learned about house training and what types of products to use in case puppy has an accident on the persian rug.  Instructions were also given on what to do if your dog bites or mouths people.   

The instructor then talked about clicker training.  When dogs get used to the clicker training method, all they have to do is hear the clicker, and they start salivating.  Yum!  The classes are set up in levels.  The levels are repeated over and over until you pass onto the next level.  The humans need to bring about 100 small treats to class, and she recommended not feeding your dog before training so that they are hungry and attentive.  Everyone would get a clicker when they got to class, and she informed us that there are special bags available for purchase to store the treats. 

Lila and I were all set to go the first day.  We fed her a little bit because I didn’t want to look like a piece of prime rib to Lila.  I made sure that Lila had her gentle leader on because I wasn’t sure how she was going to react to the other dogs.  Luckily I was able to strap on my own blue fanny pack which carefully held the treats that were cut up into small bite sized pieces.

I was a little worried about bringing Lila back to the AHS because I thought she might be sensitive and maybe she would worry that I was dropping her off there for good.  I was wrong.  She was very excited to go back.  Hmm.  She knew which way to go and went up the stairs to meet the grouchy receptionist at the front desk. 

“That gentle leader is not on properly,” said the receptionist.

While the receptionist tugged and pulled the gentle leader and made sure that it was as tight as could be, she stomped back behind the desk.  It wasn’t too tight because the treats still got through to the proper receptacle. 

I barely got our names written on the name tag, and Lila pulled me into the gymnasium.  We were instructed to go back in the corner.  Treats and toys were up on a table at the opposite wall of the entrance.  Chairs lined the other three walls.  Thankfully, Lila and I were close to the watering bowl.

The trainer, Bill, came over to meet Lila.  Lila barked and panted.

“Panting is a sign of being anxious,” announced Bill.  Bill swaggered around the room with his special bag of doggie treats that obviously were better than the treats I brought because I noticed that suddenly Lila was very attuned to Bill.  Lila barked and barked at Bill.  It was if she was saying, “Come back, come back.”  It was very distracting to the class, and I was slightly embarrassed.

“Feed her treats, if she barks,” said the receptionist who was now the trainer’s helper.  I thought that might be bad to feed Lila treats just because she was barking. 

Bill came back to see Lila.  “Here are our newest members,” he said.  “I am going to pick on them,” he laughed.  Bill showed us the sign for sit.  While holding a treat in your hand, hold it slightly up from the top of the nose of the dog and slide it back toward its rear, and the dog will sit.  If the dog performs the trick properly, the owner is to click the clicker and give the dog one of the treats from the special bag.  Since food was involved, Lila caught on right away.  She sat just great.  I was so proud.

After the dogs and the people learned the sign for sit, we taught the dogs how to sit by voicing our commands.  If the dog did not listen to us, we were to use the sign.  We taught them how to sit by our side while being greeted by a “stranger” (i.e., Bill or the assistant).  The dog also needed to be able to eat treats from our hand without biting us.  Lila did this very well!  I, though, had a hard time holding onto the clicker, getting a treat out of the fanny pack before Lila forgot why she was getting a treat, and holding the leash down with my foot so my dog wouldn’t escape and tackle the treats on the table.

When the class was about halfway through, Lila decided that she had enough, and laid down to take a nap.  She must have been full, plus it was right around her bedtime.  She laid down, paws out front and yawned, her head resting on her legs, obviously bored.

The next Thursday night we did the same thing.  It was like that movie, “Ground Hog’s Day.”  Everything was repeated, except that the gentle leader did not have to get readjusted.  Lila and I stayed in the same level for about five weeks just hoping and dreaming to graduate onto the next level.  In order to pass the class, the dog has to do all these things without treats.  I knew we were doomed from the beginning. 

I helped Lila become a drop out because I rarely practiced with her.  The time of the class didn’t help either because Lila gets tired during that time of day.  I mean, how many treats are you suppose to give a dog?  All those treats upset the natural order of things, if you know what I mean.  Messy!

I guess the class was worth it because at least Lila knows how to sit on command now, and we do communicate a little better with each other.  There are still times when I think Lila could use some more training so I think I am going to go to the library and get a book.  Let me know if you have any good suggestions. 

This type of training is not all its clicked up to be.