The East Coast has had a cold snap, even bringing a tiny bit of snow to Washington, D.C. And Cholula and I have been out in the cold, pushing, keeping my New Year’s resolution. I’ve been mixing it up a bit, trying to increase the intensity of Cholula’s pushing. These are the events that successfully increased the intensity of Cholula’s push:
• A rat ran across the sidewalk in front of us late at night. When it disappeared, I pinched Cholula and she whipped eagerly around and pushed with at least some of the intensity she’d been sending the rat.
• A nail trimming: inspired by natural dog trainer Kevin Behan’s recent blog post, in which he describes using a nail trimming to bring out the energy in a repressed (and therefore problem) dog, I gave her nails a long-overdue trim. To trim Cholula’s nails, I take her to a wall at the park where I can sort of copy Kevin’s wall method. (For more on Kevin’s method for using a wall exercise to trim a dog’s nails without trauma, see Cholula Meets Kevin Behan—Post #1-the Nail Trimming from my and Cholula’s visit with Kevin in Vermont (complete with video). The photo at the left shows Cholula standing at the spot where I trim her nails. Since I’m hardly taller than Cholula when she is on her hind legs, I have found that the best way for me to copy Kevin’s wall climbing challenge is for me to stand on the bench, giving me height over Cholula, while I pull her up the wall, simultaneously making it more challenging for her to get there. I can’t do it nearly as well as Kevin (see above link to my previous post), but nevertheless, in the excitement of making it to the wall, Cholula lets me trim her nails. By myself, with no restraint–in complete contrast to my horrific two other nail trimming experiences with Cholula detailed in the above link, where it took several people to hold down a wild, thrashing, beast in order to trim Cholula’s nails. This time, I brought my fanny pack and food, and immediately after the nail trim had her jump down and push. Sure enough, she pushed with extra excitement, happiness, and vigor.
• Hide and seek. Kevin has recommended playing hide and seek with your dog in the woods in many contexts. The first time I tried it, I had Pundit with me, and since Pundit never leaves my side when we are outside, especially if I’m holding treats, his butt was sticking out of every tree I hid behind, but that didn’t seem to reduce Cholula’s excitement over finding me and pushing. It worked so well I went back a couple of days later with no Pundit, a hungry Cholula, and my son. We hid. Cholula found. She loved it! We loved it. And while M was disappointed that Cholula wouldn’t seek him separate from me—I’m not sure how to get her to see him as the prey to find—he had as much fun being out in the woods and looking for places to hide as Cholula did trying to find us. At one point, a massive, muscular dog whose bottom teeth stuck past her lips as she ran intimidated M, and he cried and backed up, which made the dog hone in on him with scary excitement. Cholula flew down the path to us and saved the day—not by attacking the dog but by turning herself into an irresistible prey dog, by racing towards the dog with a puppy zippy gait that made the dog chase her instead of my son. And then later it happened again, and Cholula did the same thing. I never know quite what to make of Cholula’s take on our kids. She has always been completely gentle with them, and yet this gentles is combined with a quietly insistent avoidance of too much interaction with them. Although she’ll stay on her couch if I sit on it, she usually jumps down if one of the kids gets on. And although she’ll sneak on my bed when I’m not around, she will never, ever, jump on any of the kids’ beds, even they are not there, even if we try to get her to do it. And one of the reasons I’ve been thinking of getting a third dog is that she won’t play with them (eg. My inability to get her to seek M). However, when M was emitting cries of fear at this big hulking dog threatening to run him down, Cholula came through. She usually won’t ever try to get a dog to chase her, and so I interpret her brief transformation into an irresistible object of attraction to that big dog as a selfless act to protect the family. Is this possible? What do you think? And how crazy an idea do you think it is to get a third, playful dog to play with the kids and hopefully bring out the play in Cholula?
Here are some other hiding spots we found: