Last week we were in the park near our house, which is a typical place for us to spend time. We’ve been going there since before we moved so she's calm there. It’s a small park with water access and sometimes we don't see any people at all…a dream for Pooh. She was off leash playing in the water and wandering as she does when a man several houses down began yelling at his dogs. The man became increasingly angry and I was watching the dogs to see what was going on. Meanwhile, Pooh decided it was no longer a safe place and headed home…in her traditional head down, full bore panic mode. She was half way across the park before I realized there was a problem. She paused at the gate because she knows she’s supposed to wait, but some people that were nearby tried to stop her. That increased her panic and all training went out of her brain. I was running to catch her and she was on the street (yes, street, not a sidewalk) running home when I came out of the park. Since I do NOT run I called her again as I began to lose steam and, fortunately, she calmed enough to think and came back. It likely helped that I had a bag of good treats in my hand…miracle since I seldom carry treats these days. As I clipped the leash relief flooded by body. That could’ve been the end of her. She darted out onto the street at an intersection and she isn’t very tall either. I remembered my vet saying that medical problems/injuries are how we "lose" anxiety dogs. I considered the day and what I should’ve done differently. I probably should have fed her dinner before the outing…it may have diminished her need to return home. Maybe that wasn’t it. A million scenarios went through my head and I was filled with guilt…I could’ve lost her. I know she's unsteady and I keep forgetting to start at the beginning - with more structure. I must be a failure. The scene played through my mind all weekend.
Then, this week Nicole Wilde posted a blog with the title “A Near Death Experience” (http://wildewmn.wordpress.com) and explained that she lost the grip on her leash and one of her dogs charged toward an aggressive dog. My unwitting mentor has problems too?? Perhaps I’m not so bad after all. Either way, tonight Pooh and I played in the back yard instead of going to the park because I was too tired to risk running.