Leela at the Lake, Part One
Once or twice a year, I drive to central New York to house sit for really special friends. This year, Leela was invited. Did I mention that these people are really, really good friends; special friends? I had my apprehensions, only having Leela for 2 months and both of us still on a learning curve. Taking her with me to house sit raised all the flags in me about wanting her to be the perfect house guest. She still wasn’t perfect in my house, and yet, off to the lake we went for two weeks of housing sitting.
I learned right away what it’s like to pack for a road trip with a puppy: food, treats, dishes, mats, beds, toys, towel for muddy feet, potty bags, leashes, brush and nail clippers. Need I say more? I was so busy packing all those things that I forgot the motion sickness pills the vet gave me and didn’t realize it until we were too far along to turn back. And yes, somewhere along the way, she got a bit sick but I never heard a peep out of her. For her, it was a colossal nap time. We stopped along the way because puppy mommy wanted to give her baby a break. It was, after all, a 5-hour trip. Darn it, I had to pee and yet, couldn’t see leaving her in the car, so I managed to wait until we arrived at our destination. I envisioned people breaking my car window because I’d left her in the car, even though it wasn’t hot. I thought about posting a sign that stated, “She’s already peed. Now her mom needs to. I promise I’ll be right back. She’s fine.” But I didn’t. I just waited. How do other doggy moms do it?
She was so excited when we stopped, I thought she’d never pee. “Are we here? Is this the place we’re going to?” It happened to be the back of a McDonald’s that had a small ‘wild’ area with grass and rocks, so I’m sure she would have been more than happy to stay and smell the burgers and fries all day; more than happy if that were our destination.
But back in the car we went.
The lake was instantly a magical place for Leela. It didn’t take long for her to feel right at home (in a good way – not all the ways that I’d been apprehensive about). There was a backyard forest and hills and a big lake, new sights and smells. A nest of Red Winged Blackbirds was nearby and they weren’t too happy with Leela’s choice of favorite spots. But we survived and so did they. Chasing robins became a favorite pastime. Never catching any made me happy.
I need to add that in addition to house sitting, we were also cat sitting for Kizzie. Kizzie was used to three standard Poodles, but Leela, that was something altogether different. They’d touch noses, then Leela would get so excited, thinking they were going to play, that she’d cross one of Kizzie’s boundaries and get hissed at or swatted. Now, Kizzie had lots of high places to be and there was a gate until Leela learned she could jump it. Still, when Leela thought of Kizzie from time to time, there was much tail wagging, barking, hissing and swatting. I wanted to create the perfect environment for Kizzie, who I’d developed a relationship with over the years. Well, occasionally, I got swatted, too, probably for bringing this beast; this hyena, into the house.
This is probably a good time to share why I refer to Leela as the occasional hyena.
Leela’s energy connection with Catherine
While I was house sitting, I’d wanted to get some dog training from Catherine of Paws Please Dog Training. She’d worked with my friends’ Poodles and they were awesome companions. Catherine also did energy work with animals.
Before Catherine came to the house for our first training session, I asked if she might try connecting with Leela to learn more about those precious few months before I adopted her. Leela shows no trauma or aggression; no hoarding or guarding, so I was curious. What I got was not what I expected.
Catherine came to the house with some interesting information. I’d sent her a photo of Leela earlier, as the conduit for connection. Catherine said that she was in her doggy day care center when she connected with Leela and didn’t get anything about her early months at all. What she got was something about Leela’s past life. In fact, as the energy came through, all the dogs in doggy day care began acting strangely. You see, Leela shared with Catherine that, in a past life, she’d been a hyena.
Well, of course she had; my dingo dog had been a hyena. Made perfect sense to me. So, when I refer to Leela as the occasional hyena, that’s why. We have to figure out how to help the occasional hyena be a dog in this lifetime.
Immediately, the energy was different with Catherine. I wrote in ‘the first 60 days’ that I felt the first trainer’s energy was very authoritative; that it impacted how I felt with Leela when I corrected behavior. I felt I wasn’t gaining relationship. I may have been losing it, actually.
With Catherine, there was structure and an understanding of canine behavior that suited my own energy. Yes, you have to lead. Yes, the dog has to want to behave for you, not feel forced to behave.
Clicker and treat bag. More things to balance, manage and remember to bring on our outings. And yet, it fell easily into place. Less stress on my thumb, which the previous trainer told me to use to loop the leash (and people would know I’d been professionally trained – What people really care about that?) using my middle finger so I could also hold the clicker. No arthritis in that finger so it felt better right away.
We worked on not jumping on people. We worked on approaching people differently. Still working on it and open to any volunteers who’d like to be the jumped-on person as we continue to learn. We also worked on getting her to come when called (rather than turning and laughing as she runs away). These are the big things when you want your dog to be social.
There’s a great farmers market in Hamilton, NY, so Leela and I used that as our homework location, meeting and greeting so many people. I let them all know that they were helping to train her, because some people said, “Oh, I don’t care if she jumps,” to which I had to reply, “I understand and I do. She needs to learn not to jump. Will you help?” Frankly, she jumps with the force of freight train, so she really needs to learn not to jump.
More to write about Leela at the Lake. Stopping here for now.