Wednesday, April 13, 2011


Today something amazing happened.
Something I truly did not have faith 'could' happen,
but I wanted to believe we would achieve.

I successfully called Bugsy off geese.
Yes you heard correctly. He went into full attack mode but I was able to stop him before he launched.
I'm still processing it. Still tingling with the fear of losing him and the intensity of the 'moment'. Which was much more than a moment.

So it goes like this. It's a beautiful day. Perfect. All day I've been imagining taking him to the lake for a swim, but since I am still suffering with bronchitis and asthma I was concerned about having the energy to be fully in charge. (one never does anything with the beast without having the ability to be fully in charge)
So I came home from work, changed, strapped the e-collar on the beast and a waterproof collar, added fresh duck scent to the dokken duck, and loaded up.
As soon as we took a few steps toward the beach area I spotted two Canadian geese by the boats. The boats we have to walk past.
Fortunately they walked off behind the boats so although his nose was aware and he was looking for them, they were out of his sight.
Unfortunately two American Coots were not out of his sight. Since he doesn't usually show an interest in them he caught me off guard and took off. The coots launched and some small children and their parents screamed at the scene which distracted him giving the poor coots a bit of time to get free. He continued his chase but I called 'here' and gave a stim.
Shocked he looked back and decided to listen.
Whew minor crisis averted. I apologized to the children and parents, the kids were thrilled to watch the doggie swim, parents thought I was nuts.
Ah well, I am I suppose.

We then were able to do some nice retrieves and everyone was happy.
But then our Canadian geese friends resurfaced from behind the boats and were squawking like mad.
He whipped around so fast and went straight into the pre-launch attack mode that my heart stopped. They mindlessly honked while he became ever more fixated.
The audience was now still and silent, even the little kids stopped playing.
Despite the cool water and temps I began to sweat profusely.
His 30ft line was attached but I knew I couldn't physically hold him.
I called 'here' with a sound stim. He crept lower and toward the geese.
Crap I thought I am going to lose him.
HERE! stim
He flinched but became more intent.
HERE! higher stim
He looks at me, with a look that could kill. "I am busy Mom, do not interfere"
HERE! same stim
He loosens and reluctantly comes toward me, clearly confused by what his whole being believes is the right thing to do (attack geese) and doing as commanded.
I re-engage him with the dokken, but the tension in his body is unmistakable.
One mom and her kids are now transfixed. She comments that she has never seen intensity like that and that it fascinates her to see his conflict.
Her little boy wants to throw the dokken.
hmm OK so Bugsy happily gets it and brings it to the little guy, still with an eye on the geese.
They honk again. He's on the verge.
We struggle again, but once again he re-engages.

I'm joyous and terrified because I know we are on the edge, he could take off at any moment. The darn geese are on land near the boats so if he did go on a tear it would be a disaster, keep in mind he has a 30 ft line attached.
We continue this dangerous dance for as long as I can stand it. If I lose any concentration I'll lose him. And he is looking for that moment.

So we wrap it up BUT the geese are about 5 ft from our gear bag that I tossed on the beach. No way, no how I can walk with him to get it. So we had to walk up and around the beach house, through the playground and back to the car.
This was no easy task because he clearly knew I was trying to avoid them and was doing all he could to get an opportunity to launch after them.
He is nothing if not persistent.

My favorite move was a pretend mark of a tree in which he hunkered down and locked on to them from behind the tree. Another 'leave it' and zap helped move us along safely.

We received horrible stares as I led this large, tense, muscular dog, hand on his collar to keep him right at my side with no leverage, through the playground.
Although one little girl ran up to pet him and he broke into tail wagging and kissing, LOL.

Eventually we got back to the car but he refused to go in. He just kept staring at the boat area, you can't fool the beast.

But for all the struggle we had a lovely time.
He swam, retrieved his dokken, kissed some 2 yr olds and I stopped him from chasing the geese.
I am still trying to fully process this achievement.
I know we are not free from our struggles, he will likely really work me next time having been thwarted this time, but we did succeed.
There is hope.

The work we've done with the collar is showing.
Its not the easy time many report but the fact that it worked today on geese on Bugsy, is nothing less than extraordinary.
I'm still smiling.

I still fantasize about having a normal dog that just loves to play in the water and will fetch anything you throw, paying no mind to the resident wildlife.
But I don't have that dog.
I've got my Bugsy and I love him and I suppose I do appreciate the challenges he throws my way. It makes successes like today extra special.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Charge your fears... or something like that

I've been battling some bronchitis so I haven't been walking Bugsy in the morning (fortunately DH has been able to do that) but the last two nights I've wanted to take a short slow stroll and have brought Bugsy along.
Tonight we had a very interesting experience.
It was a gorgeous warm evening (too warm if you are Bugsy)and we were casually walking along when suddenly, in a low lying area Bugsy charged into some long grass.
Of course I am used to him darting off to smell things but this was more than that.
He started to intently sniff some grass and his tail went from its normal up to very low.
Very, very low.
Only time I've seen his tail this low is when he found the 5ft black snake skin, so that got me thinking.
Then he flinched as if stung by the grass.
I couldn't see anything.
Flinches again and acts as if there is some barrier between him and the grass.
OK now I am getting worried.
I'm looking frantically and trying to get him to leave whatever it is alone.
He won't budge and keeps sniffing and exploring.... tail and body language very concerned.
He seems wary of a long twig (ugh I think he really is smelling snake) so I grab the stick and he freaks and tries to grab it from me.
Good Lord Bugsy don't give me a heart attack.
He's continuing to sniff and search.
I'm desperately trying to get him out of there and to see what he smells.
I can't see anything.
But he hones in on a particular spot.
I carefully lean down to see if I can see anything.
He flinches as I move down- I swear my heart is racing.

I think I can see the head of a snake deep in the grass/mud.
That is all I needed, to do what I should have done in the first place, grab him and get our noses out of there.

So I cannot confirm there was a snake there but if I was a betting woman I'd say there was. And since I know that area always has copperheads I'd also gather it was a copperhead.

Bugsy the snake detector.

Now if I could just get him to not try to 'get' everything he smells/finds/fears we would all be a bit safer and my heart rate wouldn't spike so often!

Sunday, April 3, 2011

a softer gentler Bugs

Bugsy is a wide-open sort of guy.
He is a big baby and a very gentle guy but his energy and power usually live up to the bull in a china shop cliche.
He's on or asleep and has never really shown much consideration of injuries or illness............his or yours.
I always hear people say how their dog is so attentive when they are sick or disabled and I kind of chuckle and think not my Bugs. He drops his toys on me, drags me limping down the street with a face that says, "could you pick up the pace? gimp!"

But the last few days he's been super attentive to me. I've got a bad cold which has hit at peak allergy/asthma time so my chest is laboring to breathe.
He has been by my side.
I've been napping on and off for two days and each time I awake my boy is at my bedside. Sometimes asleep sometimes just staring at me.
In addition he has been bringing me his half chewed rawhide or antler and leaving it next to me. I'm not sure what that means but it seems awfully cute.
Not great to step on but it seems interesting and kind that he puts it next to me and wanders off. If I move he will collect it and place it next to me in my new place.
He's been watching me as if he is waiting for something to occur - this is a bit creepy because I can't help but wonder if he thinks I'm going to drop dead - I certainly feel like I could!
His body language is soft, very, very soft. His eyes are soft. I've never seen them look so kind.
He has collected me and shepherded me to DH at meal times, tail wagging as if to say, "here she is Dad, I've got her"
I don't know it is melting my heart - no doubt I am more emotional because I feel so weak but he amazes me.
For so many reasons

Today I finished a great book "The Tattered Autumn Sky" by Tom Davis.
I finished the passage below and looked up to see Bugsy's powerful yet soft amber eyes staring straight into mine............

"But even if she did nothing else, there would be the way she looks at me. Emmy has always been one of those dogs that meets your gaze, and when we stare into each other's eyes there is nothing more that either of us needs to know" (p244)