Well, except I'm not getting paid.
Not long ago, a fellow blogger listed "dog owners who don't train their dogs" as a pet peeve. Sorry. I'm in that category. Lucy is completely house broken, which she was not when we got her. And she can sit. And she does (usually) sit for me. I think that's about it. We're working on the not jumping on visitors thing which she is getting better about. And I've gotten her to stop waking me up to go potty in the night. But that's really it.
Let me 'splain. We got Lucy in August 2006 from my father-in-law's neighbor who'd gotten her for the kids for Christmas, but decided they didn't really want a dog after all. She hadn't been abused or really neglected. I think she was largely ignored. She was about 9 months old.
I immediately started walking her almost daily. This was a chore. She is a pure-bred Golden Retriever. It's not uncommon to see Goldens walking their owners. They are high-energy dogs. I thought, "I need to train this dog." (Especially since she was not, as I said earlier, housebroken.) So I bought some books and videos from "Uncle Matty" (this is not the shameless plug). Those really did help with the potty training. And I think they would have helped with the "heel" command too, but ...
It was just barely a couple of weeks later that I was hit in the middle of the night with Trigeminal Neuralgia. My life was turned on it's head for several months. Not walking Lucy anymore wasn't the worst of the pet troubles we had. We had a dwarf hamster that I stopped feeding and watering, and no one else thought to do it ... and she died. If I hadn't been in such constant pain followed by constant drugged-upness for months, I would have felt like a monster. As it was I felt pretty bad.
Anyway, I never got back into the walk the dog regularly thing. Send her in the back yard with the kids and a tennis ball just seemed much easier.
Since we've moved, though, I've been inspired to really train her. She still acts like a big puppy, and everyone would be happier with a trained dog. I read those books again. They are great. But I haven't actually used them. Then last Saturday, my brother-in-law sold the new puppy that #3 was sure was meant to be hers. TO help ease the devastation, Larry suggested we go let her pick out a new toy for Lucy. While toys were being analysed, I happened to see a dog harness. It claimed that it would instantly end pulling. I was totally skeptical. But for $9.99, I figured it was worth a shot.
Yesterday we tried to for the first time. INSTANT SUCCESS! I was absolutely astonished. This basically works by having a harness around the dog's chest with two straps that go under her "armpits" and lace through a loop. The ends of the armpit straps are connected to another loop where you hook your leash. So when the dog pulls, the straps tighten. I guess this is uncomfortable, and keeps the dog from running ahead. I am still unsure why this is more uncomfortable that the choking that always resulted in the past, but I guess it is, because it keeps her by my side. It's a Festivus MIRACLE!
I just got back from ... walking my dog. No choking. No arms pulling out of their sockets. It was wonderful. I like walking so much better when I'm walking her. I don't know why. But my hope is that this will get us back to the walks that we both need so badly. A tired puppy is a good puppy. And a walking Mina will hopefully be a skinnier Mina.
* Note: If you are interested in this product, check it out with the link above, but don't buy it there. It's $16.48 there versus the $9.99 that I paid at Walmart.
*Another Note: Here are photos of us, post-walk. I was trying to show the harness, but she wanted to lay down and have her belly rubbed, so there was limited success. Isn't she pretty, though?
Oh, my! Let's zoom out, shall we?
Ok, not a bad shot of the harness, but what the heck is she doing?
Can't she see I have a camera in my hand? Come on ... smile!
Well, now cute puppy and no harness. BAAAAAA!
Ok, finally! A little of the cute dog. A little of the harness.