Sunday, August 10, 2014

Reactive Rover

photo by Jamie Rosier

Wilma had not been with us long before we knew she'd need help adjusting. She's lovely in the house; obedient, eager to learn, knows her sit and stay, never poos or pees indoors and only barfs if she gets too excited. (We try to keep things calm.) One of my friends even called her a "perfect hostess," and it's true. Wilma will love you as long as you're not a squirrel.

Outside, Wilma she still likes people but as far as John and I can tell, she was never socialized with dogs. She's afraid. Her fear sometimes looks like whining, pulling on the leash or prancing from side to side. Or it can look like growling and some nasty barking of the "I will kill you if you come over here" variety.

The Pasadena Humane Society has all kinds of classes. We got Wilma into their Reactive Rover class as soon as we could. There the head of training, Roberta MacPherson, and her associate, Jamie Rosier, taught our family the essentials of daily walks, avoiding stress and fights, and how to make it all fun for Wilma. (Hint: it has a lot to do with hot dog bits.)

Last Thursday, to the stirring strains of Edward Elgar's Pomp and Circumstance March No. 1, Wilma graduated. As we all know, graduation doesn't mean you've learned everything. It means you're stepping out into the world, equipped with the tools you need to continue learning.


If you know of a big, wide, fenced in space where we can let Wilma run free a few times a week, we'd love to hear about it. Girlfriend needs to use up some energy.

24 comments:

dive said...

Woohoo! Congratulations, Wilma.
Graduation party!

Dina said...

Mazal tov to the graduate!

Maya said...

Sweet! We had to really work at socializing Charlie. He is doing pretty well now. Good luck with Wilma!

Kalei's Best Friend said...

Doesn't West Hollywood have a good size dog park? Also here's a link:
http://www.yelp.com/search?find_desc=Dog+Friendly+Beaches&find_loc=Los+Angeles%2C+CA

Petrea Burchard said...

Thank you, everyone. And Maya, you give me hope.

KBF, West Hollywood is far and we have a decent dog park in Pasadena. But Wilma can't be with other dogs yet. We need to find someone with some land where she can run a little.

Clifford Beshers said...

"Hot dog bits" is the most delightfully ambiguous phrase I have seen in some time.

Irina Rekhviashvili said...

What a pleasure to read your news!

William Kendall said...

Good for Wilma!

Petrea Burchard said...

Cliff, it seemed better than "wiener bits," though I did consider that.

Thanks, Irina and William!

altadenahiker said...

John and Wilma, is it just me? I won't say they're twins (Wilma has more hair), but their expressions are eerily similar.

Pasadena Adjacent said...

A degree - now she's truly a part of the family

BettyS said...

Congratulations to the three of you! I know these means we're closing to being able to meet on street and we're looking forward to it!
Ra, Winter, and Betty

Petrea Burchard said...

Hee hee, Hiker. I don't think she has John's confidence, but when she does, look out!

PA, soon she'll be following commands such as "Remain!" and "Acquiesce!"
Excellent beast, excellent.

Betty, we actually chatted with a neighbor and her dog today from fewer than 30 feet away. Before you know it, it'll be 25.

Ms M said...

Congratulations to Wilma -- and you! May she continue to gain confidence and, of course, get her full share of hot dog bits. (Are these sort of like pigs in blankets? ;-)

Petrea Burchard said...

Just chopped up hot dogs, Ms M. She likes them more than just about anything. Except Greenies.

LOLfromPasa said...

Well done, Wilma! What a lovely shot of you three. Wonderful!

Petrea Burchard said...

I handed Jamie the camera and asked her to take a bunch. There are even some with Wilma "holding" her diploma.

Katie said...

Such a fun family portrait! Cool that Wilma has her degree, and is on her way to becoming a dog-friendly dog. I have friends who didn't go to any classes to get their dog socialized with other dogs, so taking a walk means being constantly vigilant for dogs, and lots of barking and pulling on the leash. I wish Wilma continued socializing success!

Petrea Burchard said...

We still have to work on all those things, Katie, and our teacher made it clear that Wilma may never be fully able to be with other dogs. But now we know how to handle that, and we know we're not alone.

BonnieS said...

You are most certainly not alone! My Echo,who came to me from German Shepherd Rescue, had some serious aggression tendencies toward other dogs (and, unpredictably, some people). It took years and years of socializing and distracting with treats before we could walk past a dog she didn't know without her going ballistic. However, she did make friends with many of the dogs in obedience class and with those we walked with regularly around Griffith Park. It can be done, and good for you and John for taking on the challenge. Lucky Wilma!!

Petrea Burchard said...

Wilma is worth it (as you know from your experience). Today she had a couple of squirrel encounters that were easy as pie, and she watched calmly while three dogs walked on the other side of the street. Progress!

Shell Sherree said...

Hot dog bits are never going to look the same to me ever again...

Congratulations to your gorgeous Wilma and it sounds like she is doing beautifully.

Petrea Burchard said...

Shell, our walks with Wilma are better each day. In the beginning, we always had to be so vigilant to watch out for squirrels, cats, or other dogs. We still have to watch out, but now she's calmer and walking is more relaxing.

Margaret said...

Hooray for Wilma. I can't wait to meet her.