There’s a constant parade that passes by our house. It reminds me of the ‘Lovely Bunch of Coconuts’ song of the WW II era. An adaptation of its words would go like this: “I see a lovely bunch o’ dogs, big ones, small ones, some as big as yer head. Give ‘em a leash, a flick o’ yer leash and see how they’ll be led!”
Some of the dogs pull hard as they lead, others just about have to be dragged. Still others are at the end of a slack leash – and the rest are free, but under control.
There’s the occasional stupid ones. No, not the dogs, the owners. Here’s an example. I was standing at a busy street corner, waiting for the light to turn green. Behind me there was a commotion. A boy old enough to drive a car was nattering at a reluctant dog at the end of a leash.
Noticing my Keesha standing attentively beside me, he commented. “That’s sure some good dog you got there! Not like this stupid thing we got.”
“How long have you had the dog?”
“‘Bout four years or so. This dog never learned nothin’ since we got him as a pup!”
“So what’s your dog’s name?”
“He don’t have no name.”
The light turned green, I crossed the street, Keesha in step with me. I think the day would not have been long enough to give that lad the training he needed.
The first thing a dog needs is a name. After that, it needs persistent, consistent and insistent instruction, accompanied by little rewards. Eventually, a pat on the head or a “Good boy!” are sufficient.
On walks, dogs (especially males) need sniff stops and to occasionally mark their territory. Some breeds are retrievers, so they like to have sticks, Frisbees or balls to carry in their slobbery mouths.
If your dog has more speed and stamina than you, one solution is to train it to run beside your bicycle. It’ll take patience, but the end result will be a dog that can be given all the exercise it needs.
Then there’s what we call the ‘drop stops’. I’ve not yet seen a dog smart enough and dextrous enough to open a plastic bag, deposit something in it, seal it, then deposit it in an appropriate receptacle. However, I’ve seen some irresponsible dog owners who haven’t yet acquired that skill.
Those are the people who believe in the Poop Fairy, that mythical being that patrols the highways, byways, pathways and grassy areas, to retrieve what people’s pets have left behind. These people believe that what Fido has left in the November to March snowdrifts will completely vanish when the tulips and daffodils appear.
Ladies and gentlemen, that just ain’t gonna happen. Please! Stoop and scoop! Taking your dog for a walk is good for both of you – but the last-mentioned part, the ‘etcetera’, must go with it.