Ray has always had an independent side which he periodically shows us. Typically it surfaces when the route we take him is not going where he wants to go, so he just comes to a stop and we play a “waiting game”. There are times when he suddenly decides to cooperate, which often happens if we offer to cross the road and then there are times when he plants his rear firmly down on the sidewalk and looks at us.
“I weigh almost 80lbs so … are you going to bend over and try and pick me up?”
These psychological skirmishes have been more common since our weather went very hot and humid. We try and get him out for multiple short walks under these conditions, and we always take a collapsible water bowl and a bottle of water with us for him, so it’s not like he is being forced into an uncomfortable and demanding ritual!
Ray is spending a lot of time in his chair sleeping, so we call him when it is time to go for a walk. Historically he would come trotting into the kitchen to get his harness on but, in these extreme conditions, there are no sounds of any trotting … or any other movement! This is what we usually see now:
Ray’s severe separation anxiety is our weapon of choice at this time. We just have to open the back door and go outside, and he will come dashing through the house and into our kitchen where the backdoor is. In a few minutes we are on our walk.
Ray has learned many words over his 5 years with us, but we have never come up with a word that addresses his attitude when our route is not of his choosing. We have tended to just talk to him – “C’mon Ray. We have to go to Fortinos.” “C’mon Ray, we’re going this way today.” “Ray … what is your problem?”
We have had varying degrees of success, probably from our tone rather than what we say, but we just recently found a potential gold mine with “NO!” We have never really exploited “No” because “Leave it!” and “Off” have served well for most circumstances, but neither gets his rear off the ground; nether gets him walking again. It would seem that he understands “No” to be “What you are doing is not desired/is unacceptable.”
We had a number of circumstances on a walk today where he put his brakes on and just stared at us. Some were resolved with simple coaxing but, on one particularly situation, nothing worked. Then Carol said “Ray! No!” … and all was back to normal!
We’ll workout an effective communication vocabulary one day!