New Things Are Happening

Just a quick recap. The dog play and communication seminar was terrific. Luckily, they provided handouts of the entire presentation because there was a lot of information to take in. If only every dog owner was able to get out and take sessions like these. The dog world would be a much happier and more peaceful place.

One of my favourite parts, though, was spending some time during the break with another woman from agility class and her lovely BC mix, Mia. She was kind enough to invite me into her home and offer to drive me to Seaview Park for the second half of the class. Her house is absolutely beautiful; it’s the exact house I’ve dreamed about living in one day. She has a lovely covered porch and a small vestibule, perfect for kicking off shoes and preventing errant dogs from barking at delivery persons. It’s older and in an old downtown neighbourhood with an off-leash park just a block away. Her backyard wildflower garden is breathtaking. It was so nice sitting outside on her back deck with Mia laying at our feet, that we were actually late getting back to class!

Seaview Park itself is beautiful. I can’t believe we’ve never gone there before with Shiva. It’s located right on the harbour underneath MacKay Bridge. The views themselves are worth seeing.

However, I can see how it’s not necessarily a good park for every dog. Dogs who are fearful or nervous, or just plain reactive, may have a difficult time enjoying themselves. It’s not like Shubie, which is more of a sniff-greet-and-move-on kind of park. Seaview is wide open and owners tend to gather around on the hill to chat while their dogs play on their own around them. This can lead to a lot of potentially dangerous situations if you’re not paying attention. Dogs can get easily over-aroused when they are sharing such a small space for a long period. Fortunately for us, Shiva is pretty dog friendly now and is confident enough to back away or lightly correct other dogs for doing things she doesn’t like. That, and, with a nutty dog like her, her owners are always paying very close attention!

For the most part, I try to prevent Shiva from greeting other dogs unless it’s obvious to me the dog in question actually wants to meet her. When we pass dogs on the sidewalk, I always move out on the road or on a driveway, unless I know the person and their animal. Shiva still lacks manners when it comes to approaching strangers. She rushes up quickly and is very in-your-face. I know all too well what it feels like having a reactive dog at the end of the leash with an overly enthusiastic approaching at mach 5. Not a lot of fun. I also don’t want to accidentally put Shiva into a harmful situation. We’ve done a lot of work to get her to the place she is at now. The last thing I want is for her fears to return. Therefore, I make a very concerted effort to leave strange dogs alone unless they and their owners make it clear through their body language they would like to be approached.

Okay, so the quick recap turned into a giant tangent about dream houses and reactive dogs. Apparently, that’s how I roll.

What I was going to talk about before I digressed was the flyball class we started on Tuesday night. I thought it would be cool to try something new, to dip our toes into the pool of a different dog sport. Agility is still our main hobby, there are plenty of classes in that realm coming up for sure, but Shiva has more than enough energy for both. The intro class we had this week proved that the flyball world is much, much different. For one thing, Shiva was actually the most relaxed dog in the room. Yeah, picture that! Shiva as the calm one. Flyball seems to encourage zany behaviour. Not to mention lots of barking. If we continue, I think Rob and I are going to have to invest in ear plugs.

The class was a blast and I think it’ll be a great stress relief each week. Unlike agility, flyball doesn’t seem to require a lot of tricky handling. There are a few new skills to learn, like operating the box, and actually bringing a ball back instead of dropping it on the floor (one day Shiva will fetch properly, one day). However, for the most part the sport seems to be all about speed, speed, speed. That – fortunately or unfortunately – is something we have in spades.

So! Lots of new stuff is going on in our little house. Summer is officially over now, which is still making me sad. Nonetheless, it’s looking like we’re going to be too busy to notice.