My dog Luke and I have had our ups and downs lately, primarily over pooping in the living room, but today he passed a test: being outdoors without a leash and not running away.
I’m very pleased, because the boy needs to be able to run at his own pace, which is faster than my walk.
You should see him when he comes tearing into the kitchen from the living room at full gallop; he slides across the floor, screeching to a halt just like a cartoon character. He makes me laugh.
He’s a terrier; he’s got to run. But like any new doggie-dad, I’ve been cautious about letting him loose. Does he know where home is? Will he come back? What will I do if he just runs off?
I mean, he likes his suppertime but still, you never know what an animal’s going to do.
I want him to be able to stay in our yard when I’m outside. This is important for the whole Side Porch Experience when it’s warm out, because that’s where I entertain. It’s also important for his peace of mind, I think, because he doesn’t have enough to occupy him so far.
I took him out the porch door this afternoon; that’s unusual. We usually walk out the back door, but I’ve been trying to get him accustomed to the side door and the porch, too. So we left that way, went down the steps for our walk, then back up the steps when we were finished; and there I took off his leash while I straightened up a few furnishings that had blown over in the wind. Ten days ago, when I first got him, he wasn’t very good with steps; he’s only about a foot high and he wasn’t used to stairs. But today once I let him loose, he scrambled down the stairs, ran a circuit around the house, returned to the backyard, sat to look at me—and came when I called him. “Good boy!”
He loves being outside. And I want to be able to take him there without having to watch him every minute. The good news is that he does understand where home is; this is his territory.
One other incident: early this morning we encountered That Cat; she lives next door. She’d parked herself by my garage (considering my house as part of her territory, which it isn’t; she’s destructive), and I don’t think she saw Luke or he saw her until they met a few feet apart. She wasn’t moving and he didn’t know what to make of her. He didn’t bark or growl, he was just curious; while she was perched like Judge Judy, “And who might you be?” He took a step closer; she hissed. He pondered a moment, then approached again; she hissed again. From there he started to wander away.
That Cat likes to dig in my flowers and has destroyed several plants the past few years. I use a non-toxic garlic spray to keep her out of my flowerboxes and off my porch furniture. So I wouldn’t have minded at all, since Luke was on a leash, if he’d chased her away forever. Instead she got the upper hand. I had to chase her away instead.
Some watchdog, little man.
But I like that he’s so gentle instead of being hostile. Cats and dogs get along together in millions of homes; how was he to know I don’t like That One?
All in all we’re doing okay; he does like suppertime. Won’t chase a ball if you paid him. Seldom barks. Only chases squirrels he can’t catch. Comes when I call.
Shits in the living room. In other words, he’s about as perfect as I am—not very.
But he knows where home is, and we’re pals.++