Thursday, June 25, 2009


I woke up ready to take charge of Ray's training. He was asleep on Gregg's chair when I went downstairs and didn't get up to see what I was making for breakfast. Ray learned pretty quickly that my breakfasts (cereal and toast) are not nearly as interesting as Gregg's (last night's leftovers), so he doesn't bother me when I eat, unless he smells butter. I think I've said before that Ray is not much of a morning dog and he proves it to me every day. It's hard to motivate him to do anything. 
After breakfast I grabbed Ray's Halti and leash and led him out into the backyard to put it on. Ray is such a good dog that he didn't struggle at all when I put his Halti on him, even though I could tell that it wasn't what he wanted. He is just too polite to do anything about it, or maybe he just doesn't know what you're doing until it's all over. I do sometimes tend to forget that he's blind. 
We walked out of the gate, Ray once again doing his impression of a condemned man. He lagged behind me by the entire length of the leash. I was feeling slightly embarrassed by his behavior. I just knew that people were thinking that I beat my dog when no one was watching. 
When we got to the corner, almost the exact same spot he had stopped the day before, Ray tried to wipe the Halti off by laying down with his face in the grass. I managed to convince him to continue on for another half block. I think the only reason he moved was because he smelled Halle.  
We had met Halle, a rescue greyhound from Florida, a day or two previously. Ray had kind of intimidated her by jumping around like a maniac and acting like an idiot. He was obviously smitten by her good looks and manners (or maybe she just smells really good - that blind thing again). Halle was just not that into him. She seemed to look down on Ray's good-ole-boy hound-dogginess. The scenario reminded me of Lady and the Tramp with Ray playing the part of the Tramp but without the help of spaghetti. 
This time the Halti stopped Ray in his tracks. Halle seemed slightly more interested in a dog that showed such self control. Ray tried to jump Halle's mom and mouth her wrists but I "Bah"ed and Ray responded a bit. He wasn't nearly as frantic as usual. 
We went another half-block before Ray decided he'd had enough. Obviously a fan of Gandhi's methods of passive resistance, Ray collapsed in the middle of the sidewalk and refused to move. I tried everything I had learned the day before, which, granted, wasn't nearly enough to outsmart someone that knows Gandhi's methods - look how well they worked for him. Defeated, I removed the Halti and clipped his leash to his regular-ole collar. Ray, being graceful in victory followed me home at perfect heel. 
On the way to work, I dropped Ray at daycare. He seemed really happy to get there. There were more dogs than usual, and bigger ones than before. I stayed 10 minutes or so making sure that all was well with Ray before I left. A couple of labs and a big, fat, mixed-breed rushed over and immediately started playing with Ray. He somehow managed to get one of labs under his back legs, his front legs still touching the ground. The lab was spinning around in a circle with Ray on his back like a wrestler from World Wide Wrestling, spinning and spinning, just before he hurls the back-rider into the ropes. Ray was having a BLAST.
When I returned, Kristen, one of the daycare attendants said "He is going to sleep well tonight. He played the entire time." She was shaking her head and smiling but looked kind of tired. The dogs must have worn her out. 
I paid the fee and walked down the sidewalk to the car, Ray at heel. I was congratulating myself on having such a smart, quick-learning dog when Ray sat down and refused to budge. I couldn't get him to move alongside the car so that I could lift him into his seat, he just squatted on his haunches. No matter which way I pulled his leash, Ray refused to move. I put my purse in the car, lifted him, carried him to the car, nudged the door open with my knee, and dropped the heavy load in the back seat. 
When we got home, I put Ray out back. The potted plants at the front of the house were drooping so I filled the watering can from the rain barrel and started watering. Ray was whining in the backyard, but I, as the alpha dog, am only supposed to notice Ray on my terms so I continued with my chores. I have no trouble ignoring a crying baby but a whining dog is a bit tougher for me. I finished up with the plants, cleaned the cat boxes, fed the cats, put food in Ray's dish and had just sat down with a cookbook to see what I could come up with for dinner when Gregg got home. He took over the dinner and I took Ray for a walk around the block; no Halti this time. He was at perfect heel the entire way. From frantic to perfect in one day. Ray is a BRILLIANT dog. 

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