Well, Dawg’s back on the exercise bit. For the past month he’s been going out almost every day and trotting for 30-45 minutes along beside the wheelchair. That’s done two things: he’s lost five pounds, and it’s reminded me of yet another of his eccentricities — heeling. First off, he’s very good at heeling, but in a Bouvier way (i.e., when and how it suits him). For example, he always does it perfectly whenever one of our trainers is watching. But at home, he won’t heel beside me when I’m carrying a bag because he has a phobia about bags. It’s always been there. I didn’t cause it, but I haven’t been able to cure it either, so that’s just something we live with. If I have a bag of any sort (although white plastic is the worst), he’ll either go as far out to my left side as the leash will allow, or trot along behind me. It’s not physically possible to “make” him walk close to that bag, so I don’t try.
Oh, and don’t forget the “stop and sniff” trick where we’ve moving along quite briskly, then Dawg incrementally drops back until his head is slightly behind me. Once he’s certain he’s gotten away with that, Dawg stops to smell something. Even though I wind up dragging him along behind the wheelchair, leaving claw marks in the concrete before I notice, he’ll do it at least once every time we walk. And then there’s the heeling while herding thing he does (herlding?) where he tries to herd me while pretending to heel. He performs that little trick by, instead of walking with his head beside my hip, he’ll get it just a tiny bit in front of me so that he’s always ready to cut me off I try to make a break for it.
That wouldn’t mean much if I was walking, but when I’m in the chair, I’m sitting down, so he slowly edges forward until his head is in front of my knees, which puts his back legs, instead of his front, beside my hip. So far I haven’t run over him when I turn left, but there’s been a couple of close calls. William R. Koehler, the guy that trained all the Disney dogs back way back when, says the way to fix that is to go ahead and run into the animal. Pretty soon it’ll keep an eye on you all the time because it’ll figure you’re a dangerous idiot. My dog already thinks that but it hasn’t changed his behavior any. I think it’s important to note that Koehler never trained a Bouvier.
Sometimes I wonder why I put up with all this from him. But then, when dealing with a Bouvier it’s important to remember: the dog doesn’t care if he actually accomplishes anything, as long as he gets his way. Come to think of it, according to my wife, that sounds a lot like a husband as well. Wait a minute: we’re both house ‘trained,’ and we’ve both been fixed. We both have the same type of arthritis and we both have stomach problems. And…well…we’re both overweight.
Maybe I should start cutting Dawg some slack — we’ve got an awful lot in common. Hey, Dawg! Wanna go get a beer and complain about the lassies? I promise: no exercise!