All right, so I’ve already established that I’m a walking ball of anxiety. And if you haven’t figured out yet that my dogs, Oscar and Lucy, are the centre of my universe, then you must be reading a different blog.
Anyway, a great percentage of my daily anxiety surrounds my dogs. Like, I could be leaving them in the safety of their crate for an hour, and somehow I will convince myself that while I’m gone, they will find a way to escape their crate, open my bedroom door, open the screen door and the front door, and run away.
When I type it out, it sounds totally nuts, but I guarantee you I’ll be stressing about it some time in the next 48 hours.
So it shouldn’t be a surprise that I’ve never taken them to an off-leash park.
Everyone’s always like, “Oh, TAKE THEM. Dogs love it!” but honestly, they don’t know my dogs. I know they’d love it – they adore doggie daycare – but I don’t know if they’d ever come back to me. Raising siblings is much more complicated than raising a single pup, so a lot of their skills are a bit delayed. Also, they basically come with a built in distraction: each other. And 92% of the time, they listen to each other before they listen to me.
Believe me, off-leash parks are on my list of things to work up to.
And I took a baby step yesterday!
I took Oscar and Lucy to my BFF Jo’s house. She’s the one who lives in the country (complete with potential axe-murderer in the forest), so she has a huge yard that is completely fenced in. She also has two huge dogs, Torque and Malachi, one of whom is deaf, the other blind, and both of whom weigh more than I do.
My dogs apparently LOVE playing with other dogs at daycare, but when I’m around, it’s a bit of a gong show (to say the very least). They don’t get aggressive or bite or anything. They just BARK. AND BARK AND BARK AND BARK. Oh, and they take their excitement, fear, and anxiety out on one another. Yes, that’s right – a strange dog gets close and my dogs decide to fight with one another. Classy. (And another reason I haven’t taken them to a dog park yet.)
Really, the more I think about it, the more I realize that this was not a baby step for me. It was a pretty monumental step.
I drove my dogs to Jo’s house and – after a mild anxiety attack (me) and a lot of barking (them) – I let them run free. (Here’s a Vine of them running free! I even took their leashes off after a while! Also, in the video, I’m laughing, not crying. I want to clarify, since I could very well be crying.)
They mostly listened!
They actually did really well. In Jo’s words, they were not nearly as nervous as their mom.
I will admit that any time they got more than like, 25 feet from me, my heart rate went up. And any time they got out of my sight, I felt like I was going to vomit. And that when Chris (Jo’s boyfriend) opened the front gate for approx. 30 seconds, I think I had a minor stroke. Did I mention the front gate was approx. 100 metres from where we were standing(or just really, really far – I suck at estimating distance)? Yeah.
I’M WORKING ON IT, OKAY?!
The point is this: yesterday I learned that you’ve got to start somewhere, and that sometimes, you’ve just got to trust. Even when it’s just a sliver of trust mixed in with a leap of faith.
(Thank goodness my dogs think I’m the coolest. 95% of the time.)