A Sitty Lesson

March 10, 2009

 Cai attacks Fergus
“Learn to heel!” “Stop bein’ such a slowpoke!”  Photo by E.g.

We pet owners tend to make a lot of jokes about our animals’ urinary and fecal elimination. This is because — if we are vigilant dog owners and tidy cat owners — we must rub our nose in it (so to speak) numerous times daily. Hence the title of this post, which is — gasp! — not about elimination. 

It’s above freezing and very grey today, so I decided not to chance going far afield, but simply walk the boys around the city blocks near home. The furchildren get muddy enough without being rained upon.

In an effort to get Fergus to heel, I’ve been halting whenever the leash goes taut; or at least, I like to think I have. It’s very hard (read: tedious) to stop consistently; and besides, does Fergus really understand why I’m stopping? Does he get the connection (as it were) between his pulling and my stopping?

This morning, about halfway along our circuit, I decided that the boys should learn to sit whenever I halt. That way, the leash would go slack before we continued walking.

And so Cai got a lesson based on Fergus’s double lesson. Every time Fergus pulled on his half of the double leash, I halted and said, “Sit.” And I made sure both boys sat. If Fergus was where he should be, with his head level with my left leg, and it was Cai lagging behind who made the leash go tight, I ignored it. Conversely, if Fergus was right out in front, even if the tension on the leash wasn’t so bad, I might halt as well. When we crossed streets I would tug him back instead of stopping; safety before manners.

Now, picture the length of a typical slab of city sidewalk. What would it be, about six or eight feet? That’s how far we would get before Fergus would be pulling. Every time he pulled, we stopped and the boys sat.

For nine blocks.

It was a very sitty walk.