“I’m taking Pettigrew for a walk,” I call to my husband and boys so they know I’ll be out for a while.
Of course, they aren’t the only ones who hear me. To Pettigrew’s ears, these are magic words. Never ignored, although their effect is not what I would expect.
Rather than head for the door so that a leash can be clipped to his collar and we can set out, Pettigrew processes the information differently. He commences his pre-walk rituals.
First there’s the beautifully executed downward dog yoga pose as he furls his body from the sofa, places his front paws on the floor and with his tush high in the air thoroughly stretches.
If, and I’m not saying I’m ever this impatient, I were to attempt to clip the leash to his collar prior to the completion of the stretch, my actions would be severely rebuffed and the look of betrayal on Pettigrew’s face could break the hardest heart.
Stretching complete, Pettigrew attends to other essential business:
- Drinking some water,
- Eating his, up ‘til now, ignored dog food,
- Finding and playing with his squeaky toy,
- and, of course, that oldie but goody, playing hard to get.
As a mom with a lot of experience setting limits, I don’t engage. I hook the leash over the back door knob, drape my coat over a chair, and start another activity. Doing dishes, checking my email, etc. There are endless things I can be doing with my time.
Pettigrew is as happy with my actions as I am to his response to an invitation to walk—he’s not pleased. He comes and checks on me, signaling his readiness to now go. Too late, it’s his turn to wait.
Eventually, we come to a truce and head out.
Unfortunately, sometimes I don’t have the luxury of time. The walk has to happen, and it has to happen now. So I stand by the back door and call and pretend that Pettigrew will come. He watches unmoved. He holds out until I say “touch” his cue to come touch my hand and receive a treat. To learn more about Pettigrew’s success in training us to give him treats, etc. please read his entry It’s My Turn.
My husband has a different approach to taking Pettigrew for a walk. He waits until Pettigrew stands before him, staring beseechingly and then he clips on the leash and initiates his own pre-walk rituals:
- Finding his keys,
- Locating his phone,
- Searching for his earbuds,
- Going upstairs to look for the earbuds, (to learn more about why Pettigrew can’t follow him upstairs, please read, The Grass is Always Greener on the Second Floor),
- Heading for the back door,
- Backtracking to get some bags to bring.
All the while, Pettigrew anxiously follows him. I think Pettigrew is concerned that if he’s not in my husband’s line of vision, the walk may never happen.
Pettigrew is just not willing to take that risk!