This was my first full week back to work, and with the pressure of upcoming events and a late work night, I tried to balance my time and energy. So, Thursday morning my sister and I took the dog down to the beach path for a long walk.
Carter has this trick of shaking off where the movement of his body somehow pops his leash off his collar. This used to be a huge problem, the worst time being two years ago, on a day my parents were flying into town. We were a block from home, he popped his leash off, and proceeded to pig-run circles around me in complete revelry. The good news is, he never strayed more than 10 feet away from me and finally tired himself out. The bad news is that he ran into the street multiple times, and there seemed to be no way to call him back or calm him down.
I started rubber-banding his leash to his collar. This solved the problem, but somewhere in the past year or so I stopped. He’s gotten older, he’s less rambunctious and way more apt to listen to us when we call him back. Since I’m pretty vigilant about keeping him on leash, he’s used to it. Now when it pops off, he’ll trot a few steps, look back and me and stop when I call. We even practice calling him to us and grabbing his collar when he gets that pig-run explosion in the house – this way he allows us to grab him when he’s going nuts.
Thursday morning was a different story. While I took a photo of the ocean, my sister and Carter stood up on the cement wall of the beach path. He shook off pretty hard, the leash popped off, and he jumped down off the wall. We both tried calling his name and he took a few steps on to the beach. But as he realized the situation, he looked back at us, skipped a step and took off towards the water.
I had no treats in my pocket, the wind blocked my voice, and he was gone. “I don’t know how to get him back,” I said out loud. We both tried to stay calm. I went through thoughts – I can still see him, he’s running the beach so he’s safe, maybe someone will grab him, maybe he’ll just get tired and lay down.
We watched, helplessly, as he ran to his heart’s content. He looked ecstatic. First it was through a flock of seagulls and out towards the water, parallel to the waves. I’d call to him and he’d look back for us, but I didn’t know if he’d actually come to me. We followed him, but I didn’t run – I knew panic or running would translate to “game” to him, and I didn’t want him to be encouraged.
After a half circle of running, my sister and I at the center, with him almost a 1/2 a football field away from us, he started hauling ass towards me, for not particular reason at all. I threw my hand out in a fist to signal “come” and yelled “Come on baby!” and he bolted right to me. And right before he got to me I said, “Come on Carter – ok, SIT!”
And he did.
He sat right down in the sand in front of me, panting, his tongue hanging out, a huge smile on his face. And I put my hand on his collar, reattached his leash, and squished his face in my hands.
“You came back!” I said. Thank god.