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Wednesday, April 14, 2010

FLD Mike, Living Dangerously

Calm Mr. Mike is a wild-man.  Second day in a row.

Yesterday morning, I saw the whites of his eyes as he leapt from the rug at the front door to the matching round rug in the middle of our living room.  And then he kept on leaping.  Onto his mat in the kitchen.  Over to the shag rug in front of the counter.  He never touched down on the hard wood or tile floor in-between.  Rug to rug to rug.  And back.  He passed Gypsy with a nose butt to her shoulder; she returned a quick snarl, white teeth bared beneath her curled back lip.  Mike:  living dangerously.

But, he can't help himself.  FLD Mike is almost 7 months old.  Like people, dogs suffer through the woes of adolescence.  Yay...testosterone!

In self-defense yesterday, I took Mike out for his morning walk first thing.  Breakfast could wait.  We didn't leave our townhouse complex.  I concentrated on loose-leash heeling--my neighbors, if they happened to glance out, would wonder why I took such a backwards walk.  I worked hard for his attention.  After about 30 minutes walking-but-getting-nowhere, he started to adjust his pace in time with mine, he finally looked at me the moment I said Mike, he held his SIT, head turning with his eyes on me as I circled around behind him.  When we came back inside, he ran over to his "mat," promptly sat, and waited patiently for me to fill his bowl and give him the OK to eat.  As always, I am astonished how effective a modest bit of obedience work is in calming the "wildre-beast."

This morning, my strategy takes a different approach.  Mr. Mike and I play the "mat" game.

Mike, STAY.  I leave him sitting in the hall by the back door.  I move his mat near the front closet.  Mike, MAT.  He runs full bore to the spot in the kitchen where his mat usually is, sniffs the floor (not there), looks over toward his food dish (not there either), turns with a hop to bound into the living room, spots the mat, leaps onto it, turning in one motion to slide into a "down."  Good mat, Mike!  I move the mat several times and repeat, with increasing enthusiasm.

When I put the mat in the back bathroom, Mike can't find it right away--he retraces the other places where the mat had been, then races upstairs, races down, races through the living room to the kitchen to the back hall where he finally sights the mat.  Yippee!!  Yikes, this game isn't tiring him out, he's getting ramped up!

Shift gears.  I put the mat in the living room and send him to it.  He lies down, but his posture says, "I'm ready to GO."  STAY.  This trick proves to be a tad more challenging for Mr. Mike.  After stopping him from getting up a few times, he finally rolls over onto his side as if to say, "Ok, looks like I'm staying here awhile."  I finish my breakfast before releasing him with the command, OK!

Now, as I write this, FLD Mike is sleeping under my desk, a sweet puppy once again.

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