In the Yard

Rhonda Hayes is a garden writer, photographer and blogger. She also volunteers as a Hennepin County Master Gardener. Rhonda chronicles her gardening adventures and advice at her award-winning blog, The Garden Buzz. She is a frequent contributor to Northern Gardener magazine and the Star Tribune Home + Garden section. At Your Voices, she writes about life around the city lakes, occasionally veering off the garden path with essays on the silly and serious issues of the day.

Everyone and Their Dog But Me

Posted by: Rhonda Hayes Updated: June 13, 2013 - 10:16 AM

 Why the demure spaniel, and not the shepherd mix? And then two minutes later, why the "looks like Great Dane and something" and not the arthritic beagle? I'd love to know what triggers my dog's random lunges at the dogs we encounter on our walk around the lake.  

I had a dream. It wasn't a big one. I imagined walking, as so many others do, strolling, the dog at my side while the gentle breezes of Lake Harriet ruffled my hair. Further, I envisioned Henry-dog, nodding and as if he wore a jaunty cap, tipping it to the passing dogs, offering a pleasant "how do you do?" as we ambled along on our way.

Eighty per-cent of the time, Henry treads at a semi-reliable heel, barely registering the joggers and walkers. Yet when a particular dog goes by, it's either party time or he's ready for a rumble. I wish I could predict it. It would save a lot of rope burns and embarrassment. Like the mother of a tantrum-prone toddler, I wonder at the well-behaved pooches that circle the lake.

He plays with other dogs, he's been to obedience classes, and he's been to "camp",  just short of the military school with which I threaten him. It seems Henry has impulse control issues, or maybe it's just an overactive joie de vivre. It's obvious he's plenty smart. That hypoallergenic double doodle bloodline with lots of poodle DNA must account for it.

And it's not only walking issues. You might say Henry is into counter-intelligence. It all started years ago with that first piece of smelly cheese my husband left out near the sink and recently manifested itself with a sack of White Castle Sliders he sat down for "just a second" on the counter. Hmmm, who needs training?

And when you find the wrappers, the chewed up paper towels, whatever, sure, he shows remorse, (the dog not my husband), and looks like he's promising never to do it again, until the next time. It's no surprise, we usually refer to him as "Oh, Henry".

Four years in you'd think he'd settle down. Meanwhile I'm the woman with the dog with dust-bunny gray/brown curls (the dog not me), and the tense expression sticking it out, who knows that people will say just relax and he will too.

But just when you let down your guard down. Like the time we were all chilling on the porch, his leash looped around a patio chair leg when he saw a woman and her dog passing by. I can still see her horrified expression as Henry plunged from the porch dragging the chair behind him as he headed straight to greet them. 

There are plenty of canine gurus and dog whisperers who promise lots of solutions and insights. But most of the time I'd just like to know, "Henry, what were you thinking?"

 

 

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