Wednesday, March 16, 2011

overcoming temptation.

Claire and I went for an extremely long walk yesterday for multiple reasons that I feel I must share with you all: (1) to work on loose-leash walking, (2) to get ready to walk together in the 5K in support of the Shade Tree Clinic that my beautiful friend Shannon works for, (3) to help me calm down after my terrifying trip to the dentist, and (4) to help me burn off the calories from my lunch that consisted solely of chocolate chip cookie dough cheesecake. And just so you know: though I felt compelled to share the aforementioned reasons of why we went on this incredibly long walk, I do not feel that I must share the order in which these reasons presented themselves. Anyway... Claire and I had a breakthrough in training! This is what happened:
  • We're walking along at a brisk pace.
  • I am gazing at the sky wondering if it's going to start raining before we make it back to the house.
  • I am thinking that Claire is doing a fantastic job walking alongside me.
  • As soon as that thought completes itself, Claire comes to a complete stop.
  • I look at her and notice that she's on alert - ears perked up, body leaning forward slightly, muscles tensed.
  • I follow her gaze to... a squirrel.
  • The squirrel is less than twenty feet away and has also come to a complete stop
  • The squirrel is staring at Claire.
  • There is a stand-off between Claire and the squirrel.
  • I say: "Leave it, Claire. Leave it and let's go."
  • Claire looks at me.
  • "You can do it, Claire. Leave it."
  • She looks back at the squirrel.
  • She looks at me again and whines.
  • "Claire, be stronger than me; I know that I gave in to the cheesecake. But you can do it, be strong, Claire. Leave the squirrel. Leave it."
  • Audible sigh from Claire. She finally comes to me, whining the whole way, and we continue on our walk.
  • I praise her excessively.
  • She glances back at the squirrel who is taunting her, I swear, by waving its bushy little tail as a farewell.
  • With every glance, I continue to tell her to leave it, and then praise her when she looks at me.
People, this is a BIG DEAL. She was having a tough time deciding whether to track that thing down and give it a piece of her mind or to listen to me, and she listened to me. Hopefully we will get to the point where she responds faster and correctly in situations like this, but this was a big step in the right direction! I'm so proud of her and her good listening skills! And someday, when I can afford to fence in my backyard, she can run free and get her revenge on the squirrel population of Nashville. Until then, we'll keep focusing on training. One thing at a time!


  1. That's a huge accomplishment! Good job, Claire! I wish there were more races that you can run with your dog. I'd do a 5K or 10K if I could do it with Cabana.

  2. that is so great!! she is really coming along - so proud