The Pen Pal program checks up on the dogs and their adoptive families at the end of the first week. I was grateful when Katie, the Pen Pal trainer called to check on us. I confessed that you had escaped the back yard twice in less than a week. I told her that between John and I, you are walking 6-9 miles per day, that you are eating well and sleeping in your crate. I shared this with Katie in an attempt to defend my dog owner skills. I’ve had dogs all my life. I know dogs. But maybe not hounds.
Katie listens kindly to my litany on dog care before saying, “sounds like you have containment issues.” We have raised two kids and a dog in this house without a problem. I suggest that maybe we need an electric fence. She advises that Pen Pals does not endorse invisible fencing. This is embarrassing Dwight. Katie schedules a home visit to discuss our adoption struggles.
You are delighted to see Katie and Rob. You pounce on your front paws and circle excitedly around their legs. This makes me a little sad. I have never seen you this excited. You sit by Katie’s side. I watch her twirl your ears as we discuss your wandering ways.
She gives me encouragement and direction on how to best “contain” you. I am to use the same door consistently to let you out to the back yard. You will not use, nor see the gates along the fence line used. She suggests gating the deck as needed for smaller containment. I will practice training commands with you on a 20 foot rope lead in the backyard to get you used to its parameters. Katie recommends that I hand feed you to encourage bonding. I am hoping this will allow you to trust me more. I might even get some eye contact.
We have a lot of homework Dwight. I also ask Katie if she could assist us in earning Canine Good Citizen together. You achieved this with your inmate, but you don’t seem ready to follow commands consistently with me. To pass the test, we must trust and respect each other. I will ask you to sit, go down, wait, and come when called. I might need a whole lot of hotdogs for this. You will also have to accept a friendly stranger, allow grooming, demonstrate good leash manners, and separate easily from me for 3 minutes. The leash manners could give us trouble, as we have no rhythm when we walk. We trip over each other with lots of stops and starts and leash tangling.
We just need to be sure of each other Dwight. I respect your houndness; a little aloof, easily distracted and heavy on the singular mindedness. No multitasking for you buddy. When you smell or see something that intrigues, you go into a Zen-like trance. Truly in the moment. Maybe you can teach me how to be more mindful, while I teach you Canine Good Citizen skills for suburban living.
Thank you Katie and Pen pals for providing us guidance and support on this journey.