Thursday, June 7, 2012

Fozzie's long-term prospects

I have been thinking for some time now that I won't always have to prepare for a walk with Fozzie like I'm going into a war zone, with multiple harnesses to keep him in check, a wrist brace to ensure I can withstand his lunging, a fat pouch of treats to arm us for the distractions to which he is so sensitive, and a mental state on hair-trigger alert for the possibility that we will encounter another dog, at which moment I usually gasp, reflexively utter something along the lines of "Oh crap," beg that the person give us a minute, and wrangle a tangled mass of jumping lunging barking dogs behind a car, bush, or house, or run in the other direction. 

Eventually, Fozzie will be 15 years old, arthritic, deaf, blind, or incapacitated in some way, and he'll be far more manageable. I only have to suffer through the next 12 years of my life or so, and everything will be just fine.

Then I read a couple of posts by Jodistone and Kristine at Rescued Insanity that made me feel there might be hope, even for Fozzie. Stories about once-reactive dogs who now have moments, or even whole days, or, in fact, what looks like long-term trends, of calmness on leash when around other dogs. 

Will Fozzie ever get there? I think a lot of it depends on whether I ever find the time and the will to take him on more individual walks, without the other little firebombs. And if I ever overcome my foster compulsion long enough to keep it down to two dogs and give Fozzie more of the individualized attention he needs.  

Until then, we have our props that make leash walks possible, if not particularly relaxing. 

And I suppose I'll always look a little...eccentric...during our walks.


  1. We think you are making a strong fashion statement that will probably influence designers for the next few years.

  2. Too funny! Good luck to you! Other folks in the dog community completely understand!

  3. I know schedules can be tight, but maybe walking Fozzie on his own, rather than with the group, might help you focus on his reactivity, recognize his triggers sooner to redirect them, that kind of thing?

    Also, I've come to the conclusion that there's a certain point in dog ownership at which you stop minding "fashion" quite so much. Function trumps!

  4. The things we do for our dogs! :)

    I know Turk used to be a bear to walk and eventually, as he got a bit older, he calmed down considerably. I can only hope that as he gets even older that he'll calm down even more!

  5. Hi Kirsten, yikes you're walking three kids!!! And Fozzie's one of them. No wonder you're loaded up with stuff. But you're smiling and that's the mark of a true trooper. My peeps would buy you a big cookie. My brother Owen is very quick and quite reactive. So my dad understands the "oh sh*t" thoughts and the quick "about-face", cross the street, hide behind a car tactics that you likely also use when you're with Fozzie and the other two when you spot an oncoming dog. My dad just walks Owen without the other kids because it would be difficult trying to control 4 barking dogs on his own.

  6. If he didn't have you, who knows where he would be. My Lily screams at other doggys. Oh the things we make our humans put up with, BOL
    Benny & Lily

  7. Awww you look so cute in your war gear :)
    Fred my bloodhound was leash reactive only on walks. take him to the store or event he was fine but in the neighborhood or on trails he was a nightmare. Bloodhounds are loud as it is and when he saw another dog it sounded like I was skinning my dog alive by the sound he would make, so embarassing. I use to say walking him was like a video game, you never knew what was right around the corner. Sometimes it would take me forever to get home cause I kept having to turn around on every street cause we would run into a dog walking.

  8. Thanks for the shout-out Kirsten.

    I think what really helped Delilah was my ability to only have to worry about her. When Hubby had Samspon under control I could direct my undivided attention to Delilah. There are also times when we are greeting other dogs on the trail when I have to either relax the leash or drop it, which is risky when you have Delilah. :-)

    Of course yesterday on our walk we encountered a man in the field with an itty bitty dog and I had to strong-arm (which I don't like doing) both dogs.

    You will get there with Fozzie, I know you will.

  9. Love the battle gear! I wish I'd thought of suiting up in such a way back in the old days. I would have saved my hands a lot of unnecessary pain. You are a superstar for taking out so many dogs at once!

    Thanks for the shout-out. I am so glad I could help give you some hope. We still have bad days, I cannot lie. Yesterday we had two iffy interactions in a row, in fact. But one of them was caused my me freaking out over a dog that bolted from the front door of a house and the other by another off-leash dog that wasn't at all friendly and ran up to us baring his teeth. So I am putting those to the back of my mind and moving on.

    I really do find my own energy makes such a big difference. Sometimes the best thing I can do to prepare for a walk is have a drink before I leave. It may make me sound like an alcoholic but it works!

    If all else fails, 12 years isn't that long, right? ;-)

  10. Hahaha to the last picture! Hades is reactive but not to the extreme...but we went through that with Madden. Walks were such a nightmare and I struggled so much, but the trainer had no problem with her so I'm sure it was just me and my lack of skill. I'm sure you will get there. You are so aware of things, willing to learn and you know so much already!


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