Posted at 09:46AM - Comments: (12)
So, one of my sisters visited recently. She lives out of state, and I loaned her my car to drive for a week, which she was going to spend traveling to see her daughter -- about 6 hours drive from me -- our other sister and a friend about five hours from there, and then come back here. All that happened.
Then when she got back here and was telling me about her travels, and stays in various people’s homes, she kept complaining about everyone’s dogs – how many there were everywhere she went, how they barked, the hair… Meanwhile, Tito my Chihuahua DOES bark and whine when people arrive, and Otto is a veritable dust-bunny-in-the-making 24/7/365. Okay, whatever, let’s try to all get along. Have a hair-roller.
Her last morning here, we go for a walk: just my sister, me, and Otto. (I was keeping Tito at a remove; I didn’t want to hear about his occasional barking!) We head out to a particular trailhead in our local “wildlife area” – imagine a many-thousand-acre gravel pit, abandoned for the past 40 years and grown over with trees and wildlife, where hunting (in season) is allowed (with shotguns, no rifles). And hardly anyone is out there.
About a quarter mile into our walk, a deer pops up, practically right in front of us. It turns and runs directly away from us down the dirt road/trail we are on, and Otto gives chase. My sister says, “Oh no!” in anticipation that we are going to have to look for Otto for the next few hours.
I said, “No, it’s okay,” and after letting the pair get a good 1,000 feet away from us, I yell, “Otto! OFF! Otto, HERE!” That’s it. Four words. And Otto turns and runs back to us as fast as he ran away. He was pumped up on adrenaline and fun, and as he ran toward us, I cheered him on, “YES! GOOD dog! Atta boy! Woohoo!” I didn’t have any treats on me, as I usually do when walking out there, but I ruffled his fur and patted him the way he likes, and he glowed with pride. “I did good, didn’t I? And I almost got that deer!” (Not even close, he’s not that fast, but whatever.)
My sister, who had been talking before all that happened, went on with her story. Not ONE WORD of praise for my dog.
I had to interrupt her. “Wait a second,” I said, playfully but firmly. “Do you know ANYONE who can call their dog off the heels of a deer at a 1,000 feet and the dog comes right back?!” I was incredulous that she couldn’t bring herself to say at least, “Wow, good dog!”
And she said, “Yeah, good job,” with exactly zero enthusiasm.
I feel like not speaking to her again for a month.
PS: I was walking, a few days later, in another part of this wildlife area, with two of my friends and a total of 7 off-leash dogs. I was telling this story to them. AT THAT MOMENT, Otto flushed a giant jackrabbit and gave chase. I yelled, “Otto OFF! Otto HERE!” and he completely blew me off, chasing the rabbit a good quarter mile before it went under a fence and got safely away. Then he came back, filled with pride . . . and I put his leash on for the next half-mile or so. And then we worked on recalls on and off the whole rest of the walk, and he was perfect again. Well, nobody is perfect, but darn it, my dog is pretty damn good. And if my sister complains about him to anyone, I better not hear about it.