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Monday, April 9, 2012

FLD Scout's New Behaviors

I've been keeping a close eye on FLD Scout. Lately she's had a few behaviors that are out-of-character. She'll be nine months old on April 11; I won't be surprised if she comes into heat soon.


CLINGINESS

Scout has always preferred staying close to me. I don't know how many times I back away from the kitchen counter only to almost fall over her as she snuggles up on the rug behind me. When I come out of the bathroom, she is standing right there. Waiting.

But...

The other evening after taking Scout out to "park," I brought her back in the house to stay with Andy while I threw sticks for Gypsy and Gus. I heard her wailing and barking inside. After a few minutes, Scout barged out of the back door with Andy at the other end of her 15' lead.

"She was carrying on and almost jumped through the window," he exclaimed. "She had all four feet on the window sill and almost knocked over the plants. It was like she thought she could just go through the window!"

Next time I left her inside like that, she got sent to her crate.


PROTECTIVENESS

Andy and I were downstate, finishing Anne's room (Andy built her a bedroom as a graduation gift). One morning, FLD Scout and I went with him on one of his many runs for supplies. We stopped for breakfast on the way.

After eating I said, Andy, Scout and I will meet you at Lowe's. It was only a mile away; walking along a busy city sidewalk is always a great training opportunity.

FLD Scout had no issues with a squealing belt on an old panel truck as it turned left at the light, and paid no mind to the heavy traffic whizzing by only a few feet away. She reminded me of her half-brother, LD Mike, as she plodded slowly at my side on a loose leash. Occasionally she stretched to sniff at the green grass sprouting alongside, but a gentle reminder with the leash brought her back in line.

A couple of houses further on, a young man dressed in jeans and a white hooded sweatshirt was using a snow shovel to scrape away mud from his driveway. The sky was dark and threatening, although warm for a misty spring morning, and the man had his hood pulled up over his head.

Scout was a very vocal puppy when we brought her home at seven weeks, but now she hardly ever "speaks," unless in play with Gus or Rosie.

But...

When Scout noticed the hooded man, she instantly grew into a larger dog. Her head, instead of low and bobbing, was in high alert, ears pricked. Her plod turned into a prance. We got a little closer and she let out a sharp BARK! I stopped. She barked again.

The young man dropped the snow shovel and took a few steps back toward his house, even though we were more than 30 feet away.

Scout, sit, I commanded, but she needed some help getting her butt down. Scout, I said, trying to redirect her attention to me. I poked her side. She glanced at me for a millisecond, huffed, and refocused on the white hoodie. I said, Stay and stepped out in front of her to obstruct her view. She strained to see around me.

When Scout settled, I turned to the fellow. He said, "I thought it might be the shovel, that's why I dropped it." He shuffled from foot to foot, gesturing with his arms.

She's a little nervous, I said, explaining that she is a Future Leader Dog in training. I'll just chat with you a bit until she calms down, okay?

"Yep, I think it was the shovel," he repeated, taking another step back. I could see that he was more nervous than Scout. Time for us to move on.

Scout, heel, I said in my most commanding voice, and kept her leash short. She pranced at my side, but did not pull to reach him. "I think it's the shovel," he mumbled again. As we passed she craned her neck around to keep her eyes on him; I responded with more finger pokes and name recognition. She finally stepped to.


FEAR

Did you now that an Easter Egg Drop really IS a "drop?" We found that out last weekend at a puppy outing in Clare. Fellow-raiser Judy and her husband Sam had arranged a busy day for six FLDs and their raisers. (Thanks Judy!)

First we met at Jay's Sporting Goods, on the north side of town. Think Cabela's, or Bass Pro Shops, and you'll imagine the challenging distractions for our puppies. The "trophy room" was particularly interesting.

FLD Scout checks out the mounting of a buck's head in Jay's trophy room. She's glad there's a rope restricting access.

FLD Scout timidly backs away from some animal skulls on display.


After Jay's we headed east of town to the Clare airport for the egg drop.

1800 plastic Easter eggs fall to the ground.


Besides all the kids and noise distractions, our FLDs got to meet the Easter Bunny. FLD Scout and FLD Autumn weren't too sure at first, but I guess when you are with a friend, the scary turns out to be not so scary after all!


But...

The puppies gathered round two of Clare's finest firefighters and two piles of gear. Civilian shoes were kicked off. The two men stepped into fireproof pants that were tucked at-the-ready over heavy rubber boots.

With amazing speed, the men grew bigger before our eyes. A pull on the attached suspenders brought the pants into place. They donned reflective jackets and snapped heavy air tanks in place as easily as I would throw Scout's "puppy bag" over my shoulder.

The furry supervisors monitor progress calmly from good-form heel positions.

A rustle arose from the four-legged crowd when the men were swallowed up by protective headgear--fire-retardant balaclavas, face shields, bright yellow helmets--and bulky gloves.

The puppies are starting to be not so sure.


A sudden burst of hissing air startled the puppies as the men turned on their breathing apparatuses, but it didn't take long for them to recover.

Except for FLD Scout.

She bolted to the end of her leash. She danced in my shadow, using me as a shield between her and THAT HUGE SCARY MONSTER!

FLD Ruckus shows FLD Scout it's okay, but she's not buying it, even if there are treats!

It might have been the acceptance of the other puppies that eventually gave Scout enough confidence to come a little closer, but I suspect it was the shutting off of the air tanks and the gradual reappearance  of the men who had disappeared. They took off their gloves and lifted their face shields.

Scout finally took a treat.

Luckily, the firefighters were patient while Scout got over her fear. We'll see how she does this week--we have another outing, this time at the Bay City Central Fire Station!

Some little girls love up FLD Scout, who sits nicely for the attention.

2 comments:

  1. Poor Scout. I hope things get easier for her-and you too. :)

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    1. Thanks! We went to the puppy outing at the fire station in Bay City last night. She did much better with the scary men--look for a post about it soon. :)

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