Starbucks has been prominent in our time with Ray even though, unlike Lululemon, they have been totally unaware of Ray’s involvement with them!
The first incident was when we were contemplating adopting Ray and were taking him out of the Oakville & Milton Humane Society for a short walk. At one point he stopped when he found an old Starbucks coffee cup laying in the grass. He then proceeded to hold it firm with a front paw while taking off the lid with his teeth. This was quickly followed by a thorough inspection of the inside! Acknowledging later that he had been living as a stray before OMHS picked him up, we really should not have been surprised at either his dexterity or his ingenuity!
Our visits to Lululemon would invariably take us past Starbucks, which was initially a bit of a challenge for Ray. The problem was simply that there was a public bench right outside, placed such that anybody sitting there would have their back to the road and therefore facing Starbucks! On a nice day it would be a convenient place for a customer to chill and enjoy a latte and, as dogs are not allowed in the store, they would usually be tethered to part of the bench.
Starbucks also clearly wanted to cater for customers who had a preference to sitting outside so they decided to put two tables, with two chairs each, alongside their building wall. People sitting there could also tether their dogs to either a table or a chair.
This therefore had the potential of being a quite busy stretch of sidewalk given that the gap to pass between the bench and the tables was probably around 6 feet wide. Add a young child or two into the equation and …………………………………….!
In my early walks with Ray, I would be studying the sidewalk traffic outside Starbucks as soon as it was within sight. Typically there would be at least one dog under a table with its owner enjoying a drink, and a parent or two on the bench with small children running around. Given that Ray reacted badly to people and dogs at that time, the decision had to be made whether to risk taking him through the gap between the Starbucks customers, or simply cross the road and avoid the situation completely. The latter was often my decision.
As Ray became a more comfortable with people and dogs, I was able to avoid the “detour” a number of times however, there were still occasional problems as I realized at the last minute that a dog under a table (or alongside the bench) was not in fact on its leash! Fortunately a polite request to the dog’s owner resolved those issues.
The dogs in question were often quite small and my request was simply “Would you mind holding onto your dog because this guy (pointing at Ray) is likely to see your dog as simply a squeaky toy ….. and you do not want to know what he does with squeaky toys”. They would look at Ray, and pick up their dog!
It is now tourist season here, and Ray is a different dog to what he was a year or two ago. We can now approach Starbucks and, noting people, children, and dogs, on both sides of the sidewalk, can walk him right through the middle! He knows that people and dogs often mean treats and all he has to do is look up at whoever is holding his leash to get one. All we have to do is watch his head and as soon as he turns and looks up, give him his treat.
Like any positive training exercise, the treats have been slowly withdrawn in frequency and, if the sidewalk outside Starbucks is not too busy, then Ray will cope very nicely without any. However, given multiple dogs, people and children, Ray will currently get his treats every time! He will have earned them!