My powerful little dog has torn her ACL – at least that is what the vet “thinks” is the reason she leans slightly to one side to take her weight off her back leg. Now, she always looks a little crooked when standing still, unless their is a small living creature in her line of sight. When movement is sighted, all pain is forgotten.
It has been about a month since we were given her diagnosis, and Lulu is miserable. She cannot go anywhere without being on a leash, and I honestly don’t understand why. She has simply transferred her energy releases to the interior of the house, and turning sharp corners as she slides around the dining room table on hard wood floors at 20 MPH has GOT to have a more adverse effect on her ACL than trotting the fence line.
On top of all this, is the relationship stress.
“Are you taking her out?”
“It is raining.”
“It is your turn.”
“She still has to go to the bathroom.”
“It is raining. Just let her out. She does not run in the rain.”
At this point, the conversation often begins to escalate, because if it is not raining, then it is cold, or it is dark, or now that it is winter, cold, dark and raining.
“You are so lazy. I’ll take her out!”
“I can feel you staring at me.”
“Are you taking her out?”
“You just said you were taking her out.”
“Fine, I’ll take her out.”
“Good, and hurry back. I don’t want to leave the show on pause for 15 minutes.”
As we stand at the door staring out in to the yard, I lean over and clip on the leash. I stand and look down at her as she looks up, a mild look of disgust on her face.
“This is what happens when a Republican dog is raised by a democrat,” I say, raising my eyebrows at her in a dog smile.”
“I HEARD THAT!”
I’ve not blogged in forever – mostly because work has kicked my 30 plus gained pound fanny, and downtime is spent zoning out on some story or TV mind release. Around this all, I’ve of course been wrapped up in Lucy’s world.
Today I decided to just write. It’s relaxing, and I need to relax.
I’ve gained about 35 pounds in a year – and two weeks ago when I sat slogging through more TV, slouched on the sofa with my rolls compressed, and Lulu staring at me in frustration, I decided to make a shift.
I logged onto my iPad – kept near the tv – and searched for diet food shipped to me. Limited time required something simple with little thought – alas “BistroMD.”
This past week of starvation via small cartons of “balanced” food has resulted in four less pounds and zero energy. The diet says not to add exercise initially – no issue.
Today though, Lucy got her long weekend hike. Racing to me, laying on my feet as I tried to slide on shorts, and twirling in bone breaking pit bull circles, we prepared to head out. I asked her to sit while I went through the door first (my only moment of feigned dominance) she tremble and hunched down as adrenaline coursed through her dense muscle. It was time to WALK!
As long as it is above 30 I hike in shorts. Below 30 might result in frostbite, so with khaki shorts, two thermal shirts, a down jacket, wool hat and gloves, we headed out – the pit and her mentally challenged owner. Seriously – no hiking pants fit me. I’m fat and my ego refuses to buy another size up, so I punish myself with chafed legs and the new Bistro regime
It was cold this morning, and Lulu circled me frantically in her efforts not to pass the pack leader, as taught. I really would rather her pull than constantly wrap my legs in her leash – at least initially. The wrapping is typically only a few minutes while excess energy is burned. There are exceptions.
We did five miles, down chilly wet squirrel infested streets. Lu bolted, and then circled, repeatedly. I now have chafe and several leash burns.
Back home, she got her biscuit, and I had two bites of lentils, beef and veggies. I think hers had more calories, but then she has much less body fat.
Tonight is my night off – one night every seven days. Monday morning is the big first week weigh in. I’m expecting big results, and only have 15 more weeks to go!
I am a bit impulsive and certainly not structured, so it comes as no real surprise that my decision to train Lu had mixed results. I was taken aback when a friend had told me that Lulu was the dominant one in our relationship, so I decided obedience training was in order. We had dabbled in it when I first rescued Lu, and had gone to a few classes – working with a few trainers. Ultimately, Lulu had ended up doing what Lulu wanted to do most of the time.
In my typical disciplined approach, I googled obedience training, read a few articles, and began the lessons. First, I needed to teach her that I was to go through doors first, as she waited. I also needed her to look at me when I spoke to her. I remember reading the last article, and stepping to the back door to call her, yelling to her as she ignored me – intentionally ignored me. Let the games begin!
The first door attempt at establishing who was who in the pecking order, resulted in both of us wedging ourselves into the door at the same time, with her insisting she push through first. She is pretty good at sitting, so I told her to sit, and as I turned to go through the door, she bolted forward, slamming me to the side as she triumphantly led the way. After our 83rd attempt, I stood staring down at her – her tongue lolling out as she grinned up at me. Let’s see, what did she value over anything else – easy – her walks.
I took Lulu into the mud room to head out front for a walk, and as I opened the door she attempted to shove 40 pounds of solid muscle between my legs and out the door. I closed the door gently on her head (maybe not as gently as I should have) until she backed into the mud room and sat to stare at the door. Again, I opened the door, and again she leapt forward. I closed the door again. This went on for about a half hour, until she finally figured out that as long as she sat quietly, the door stayed open. The next step was to have her look at me for instruction.
We stood with the door open and the storm door closed. She sat hunched, staring at the door, trembling as adrenaline coursed through her bunched up muscle. I reached to open the storm door and she crouched, so I let the door go and waited as the trembling stopped and she slowly calmed down. I continued the exercise, reaching for the door, as she crouched in anticipation, letting the door go, and waiting repeatedly for her to calm down.
Finally, we reached a point where I could step back and forth through the door as she sat bunched, staring straight ahead – eagerly waiting for me to call her. Now it was time for the second step. I stood and waited, softly asking her to “look at me.” She knew what “look at me meant.” We had practiced this with one of her trainers. Stubbornly, she stared straight forward as I repeated the command, refusing to even glance in my direction. She looked so angry and frustrated – so I waited, and waited, and waited.
I stood there for about 10 minutes, until with slitted eyes and taught facial muscles, she looked up at me – or rather she glared up at me. I called her and she came through the door, slinging her body to the side as she flew past me. I was tempted to try one more time, but we were both exhausted from our battle of wills. We headed out on our walk, her pulling at the end of her leash – leading our small pack down the street. She looked proud and defiant – head lifted high, turning like a radar as she searched for prey. Small steps I thought as I pulled her back. She seemed to pull slightly less as we continued, but that may have just been wishful thinking on my part at the time.
Over the last few months we have continued our lessons. She now waits patiently until I go through the door. She watches me the whole time – maintaining eye contact for as long as I ask her to sit in front of the door. She also now walks at my side, and instead of bolting after anything that moves, she does a little dance of anticipation. She has come a long way in a year.
She is an incredibly athletic dog – having Staffordshire terrier, American Bull terrier, and Viesla in her lineage. She has an incredible prey drive and is high energy. I would like to teach her agility after we have our obedience conquered, but first I have to get her past her dog aggression. I don’t know what happened to her before I found her, but she was in bad shape when we met. I’ve used three trainers. I have not had good experiences with any of them, so for now, I will keep reading articles, and we will keep battling until I find the right trainer for my fiercly stubborn little bully dog.
Yesterday Lu found a rabbit nest. She killed all four baby rabbits in less than a minute. Then my dog that eats only the best food that money can buy, just as quickly ate them. I did not have time to save the babies. She was just too fast.
I had a hard time looking at my savage dog without feeling sadness for the babies, and the mama that returned later that evening. I could not love her for a few hours, and turned my back.
Last night Lu climbed up on the sofa and pushed her flat, block head up under my arm. She laid her head on my lap and tilted it to the side, her soft brown, pink ringed eye gazing up at me. I laid my hand on her head gently, and she sighed deeply as her warm eyes slowly closed.
Vies-la + Bull Terrier + Stafford-shire Terrier – this is my dog that loves hard, kills hard, and explodes both with life and onto life. It is hard to believe an animal so gentle and loving can also be so feral and brutal.