My Hope For Everyone
Last week I got together with SJC blog guest star, Meika and her mom for a walk at a local park. After our walk we decided to hit up a local ice cream shop for a post-walk snack. It was a gorgeous evening and there were a handful of people in line when we pulled up. I decided it would be easier to have Shayne and Rio with me in line than have to try to open the car door and get them out of the car while juggling ice creams. The store had apparently just painted their handrails/barriers so they had roped off most of the entrance steps (which I didn’t see before getting the pups out of the car), leaving just a small opening for people to enter through. I paused for a moment before entering the area and getting in line, considering whether to put the dogs back in the car or just go for it. I gambled and decided to keep them with me in line figuring it wouldn’t be too bad since the line typically moves quickly.
The line was very slow moving this time and more and more people joined the line after us. By the time we reached the window, the line was so long that it extended through the small opening they had available as an entrance. I knew things were going to get a little dicey because I’d either have to shimmy my way back through the crowded area or climb over the roped off steps (luckily the ropes were hanging pretty low–it was obvious that others had stepped over them). This would normally be no problem, but you have to recall that I am at an ice cream store and I almost always take advantage of this particular store’s free puppy-cup of ice cream (a cute tiny scoop of ice cream with a dog treat on top). So I would be walking away with my cone of ice cream and two other cups of ice cream in my hands.
Shayne and Rio were great while at the store, they walked really nicely from the car to the patio area through the parking lot and in line, they sat or stayed in a down with all the people around. They didn’t bother anyone and other than taking up some space, they were perfect. When we eventually got up to the window, I ordered my ice cream cone and the two puppy cups for the dogs and was trying to find the best exit route since going out the way we came in would not work out so well. I paid for my ice cream and grabbed my cone and the two bowls of ice cream for the pups and stepped out of line. I was a bit discombobulated so I took a second to put the leashes in the hand with the ice cream cone so I could more easily balance the two cups of ice cream in my other hand.
Getting off the patio was the most challenging part so I took it pretty slow. I approached the roped off stairs and cued Shayne and Rio to sit and stay while I moved a chair and stepped over the low hanging rope. Once I stepped over the rope, I stepped on the rope so the dogs wouldn’t barrel through the rope and pull the chair over the steps (in the most grandiose style of course). I released them from their sit stay and they barreled over the rope and down the steps. I quickly cued another sit stay so I could get the rest of the way down the steps without losing any of the ice cream. Once down the steps we had to walk through the parking lot to get to a sitting area where we could all hangout.
I started walking, again with three ice creams and two leashes in my hands, through the parking lot and could hear the comments being made by folks in line on the patio. They were amazed at how well behaved the dogs were and couldn’t believe I could have so much control over the dogs with my hands so completely full and the leashes pretty much just draped in my hands. The dogs walked perfectly, through the parking lot on completely loose leashes while looking at me (I won’t lie, it was probably the ice cream in my hands that they were coveting). I was so proud of them and I just thought to myself that this was such a great moment–it could have gone so horribly wrong…but it went so wonderfully well!
This moment is one that I hope all handlers can experience. Not the ice cream (though that was super yummy), but the moment when they can approach a challenging situation with their dog that will test all of the training they have done and have their dog exceed all of their expectations. Being able to see all the hard work of training pay off in a big way–I want everyone to be able to feel that because it’s such an amazing feeling when things that could go so terribly wrong, go so right!