The Cherry Blossom Situation

Our first stop on our exciting adventure this weekend was to the DC cherry blossoms! They actually weren’t quite blooming yet because it’s been so cold, but they were budding and it was still gorgeous scenery. Even as DC natives, the cherry blossoms are something we look forward to every year.

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But, for the record, anyone who has a dog that’s working on not being overly-excited around other dogs should probably think twice about heading to the cherry blossom festival. . . even if you think that going at 8 am is early enough to beat the crazy crowds. Because it’s not. And you’ll show up unprepared and you won’t have enough treats and neither of you will be ready when a sudden mass of dogs and humans appear nearly on top of you out of what feels like no where. So then because you show up unprepared and the alarming amount of dogs overwhelms you and the crowds and pathways totally don’t lend themselves to DINOS (dogs in need of space), you and your dog have a near meltdown. This includes but is not limited to your dog acting like a total lunatic, you getting extremely flustered and embarrassed, and total failure in the whole “set you dog up for success” category. Oh and of course you’ll be meeting up with some blogging friends who are seeing your dog for the first time and it will be a *perfect* first impression – especially when your dog gets loose from her leash and your friend needs to catch her as she flings herself towards their dog.

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09 10So, in summary, folks with dogs who are working on their skills around other dogs will have a totally uneventful and calm trip to the cherry blossoms! What, that’s not what it sounded like I described? Okay, you’re right. It will probably be an exhausting and tough trip. But on your way out you’ll realize how well your dog actually did do, given the circumstances. Slowly you’ll start to put together every moment where she was actually great and you’ll begin to forget the general picture of “bat-sh*t craziness” that it feels like you left with. Then you’ll head out to a secluded spot where you can take pretty pictures in as much personal space as your little heart desires!

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And you’ll breathe a big sigh of relief and say, “Good job team”. . . then run to the car before anything else can go wrong right :-)

To adopt Johnnie Cash and her nose that matches the cherry blossoms, email peacelovefoster@gmail.com.


Fall Afternoon Lessons… with Otis!

We love parallel walks. A dog can benefit so much from a walk with another dog. It gives them the opportunity to be around another dog without the pressure to interact, which can also help them learn to be calm in the presence of other dogs/people.  Sometimes I don’t always feel comfortable letting my fosters play off-leash with other dogs, but I’m always up for a fun leash walk!

The day after Thanksgiving was totally wide open for us. It was me, Charlie Bear, and a gorgeous Fall day, which obviously meant scoping out the best place to take him hiking.  I decided tocall up R to see if he and Otis wanted to join so that Charlie could practice walking nicely with another dog.  The four of us headed out to the C & O Canal, one of my absolute favorite spots to go for a nice long walk.

Charlie and Otis immediately hit it off.  In addition to getting practice walking with each other, both dogs got to work on staying calm when bikers, joggers, walkers and other dogs passed by.  With the help of treats and some distraction with the “sit” command, both boys pretty quickly began ignoring the passing company.

It can be helpful to take young dogs (or any age, really) to low-key places like this for a controlled amount of positive interactions (if and ONLY if they can handle it and aren’t reactive, etc.). What you want to avoid is introducing them to too much, causing them to become overstimulated where they might learn negative behavior or bad associations.  Socialization does not mean blasting your dog with every experience under the sun – it means controlled, positive situations where they can grow and learn in a positive way.  It also means knowing when to call it quits. We never reached that point with Charlie (or Otis, for that matter) because he’s pretty great in new situations, but I was constantly watching his body language for signs of stress.

As you can tell, the boys seemed pretty too cool for school during their hike.  After all the learning, practicing, and perfecting, both Charlie and Otis enjoyed some relaxing time lounging around for photos – which quickly turned into attempted play time! Ha!

I am proud of Charlie Bear for doing so awesome and for proving to me yet again what a great dog he will make for someone.  To top off our fun afternoon, Char plopped down when we got home from that walk and didn’t get up again until dinner.  Thanks to the basic obedience practice and the physical exercise, Charlie was tired and happy.

If you’re interested in adding Charlie to your family, email me at peacelovefoster@gmail.com, or fill out an application on the Jasmine’s House website.