Stella, Stella, Stella… what am I going to do about you, mia puppia! This is a revved up, crazy dog, and I am having a hard time keeping up with her. She’s half lab and half Springer Spaniel, but there are days when I swear that she’s also part Whippet. I can run her for a few hours and after a twenty-minute rest, she’s ready to play all over again.
When my stepson was a little boy, someone asked him to do something and he replied, “I don’t listen to that.” It’s been a saying in our house for many years, and Stella clearly subscribes to that philosophy. Some days, when I call her, she will run like the wind to be with me, but if there’s a stinky good smell or a small furry creature that she’s after, it’s “I don’t listen to that!” While I was unable to go outside with the dog when I first broke my arm, my husband invented a game called “chase the stick”. Stella finds these huge branches that she gets in her mouth and proudly marches around. To exercise her, my husband would run after her, and she learned how to play keep away. Big mistake. Now, she’s started just taking off into the woods when she is off the leash, and it’s really hard to get her to come back – especially since I can’t really chase after her yet. She teases me, running in circles around me refusing to let me get near her.
Stella has in the last two months also become afraid of some things that never used to bother her. She suddenly hates having Frontline put on her back. She used to love to go to the vet but recently, she’s terrified. No one has ever done anything to hurt her, and since she was a puppy, I was really good about touching her ears and her legs and generally getting her used to being handled. Just during the time I have been injured, my trusting pup has become a total scaredy cat. If she sees me approaching with dog treats, she runs away like I’m going to poison her. So I’m going to have to go back to step one and start over on training her.
I’m going to begin taking her to doggie day care so she can spend more time playing with other dogs while I’m healing my arm. I just don’t have it in me to go for the long walks that we used to, and my daughter and husband are too busy right now to help exercise her. If anyone has any ideas about the re-training process or any of this, I’d welcome them. I’ve had dogs my whole life, and they’ve all always wanted to stay by my side off leash and been really responsive and well behaved. I’ve done all the same things with Stella, but she’s got a mind of her own and can become oblivious to anything I do to get her attention.
I’m used to trusting my dogs without a leash, but right now, Stella is on a short lead or a long retractable flexi leash whenever we leave the house. I was visiting a friend this week who has a golden retriever puppy that is younger than Stella. This dog was so mellow and calm that it almost seemed like he was drugged. I came home to be joyously greeted by my wild child, and while I admit that I was feeling jealous, I also knew that I wouldn’t trade Stella for anything in the world. I’m sure that she has some lessons to teach me while I’m teaching her.