Over the last year+, I have had the privilege to work with two other amazing pet care providers to form a worker-owned cooperative business. We do all the normal pet business stuff, AND run it democratically. It is a ton of work, but all that I’ve learned over the last year, and the interpersonal growth, has been incredible!
After completing a 16-week Academy and several months of legal and business coaching, we officially launched our business in June 2016! There is still much work to do, of course. And I couldn’t have found two more wonderful people to work with on this project.
Barney is going on a long hiatus soon, and I was fortunate to be living with Diablo, so we did a special six dog hike. Packed everyone up in the amazing new van and trekked Sibley Volcanic Preserve.
I tend to take on more challenging clients, and six of those at once is a lot of work. But having very clear expectations already established with each of these dogs on an individual level is what made this possible and fun. Prior practice + clear communication = happy healthy hiking. It also helps to leave the extra crazies at home. :)
I’ve been doing a lot of learning on Samson’s behalf lately. Today it all came together.
As you can see in the picture above, Samson is hanging out with the group for the photo. Unlike the last photo I posted where he was represented by just a tiny tip of a leash, as he walked out of shot to do whatever he damn well pleased!
I was giving Samson small-dog slack for a long time. He was manageable even though I knew in the back of my mind that he knew he was getting away with not listening. Then I eventually got tired of him straight up ignoring me. You know, the kind where they look at you, consider their options, and then blatantly opt to not follow your directions. So for the past few weeks Samson has been doing more earning of his off-leash roaming privileges. This includes holding a spot for photos.
I feel like kind of a jerk, or an egomaniac or something, making this “harmless” little guy listen to all my obnoxious bossiness.
These five dogs and I were hiking in Sibley. Beautiful, hot day. Walking under some shady trees. All of a sudden: rattling! right under my feet! I pick up the pace with Tootsie in tow, “come on everybody let’s go!” Thankfully Banner, Ani and Pepa were already up ahead, as usual. Samson was hanging back, typical, leaving his mark every ten feet. With Tootsie out of harm’s way, I look back to see Samson seriously walking TOWARD this giant rattling snake in the middle of the path that is coiled up ready to strike anyone’s tiny little head. So I get majorly intense and moderately hysterical in my commands, “SAMSON! NO! SAMSON! COME!” Thankfully this time he took me seriously and zipped up the trail, and we left that big scary snake in the dust. Of course everyone got lots of praise for being such good snake-avoiders.
It was a stark reminder that this is the scary stuff we’re planning for in all our group sits, on-leash breaks for non-listeners, millions of recalls, chill car rules, and the obedience practice practice practice. Good safe hikes for good dogs!
Pepa and I recently got to spend some quality time with a (1 year old, intact, mouthy :) ) German Shepherd named Finn. Once he figured out that Pepa prefers to not have her whole head inside his mouth, we were well on our way to a lovely weekend. It helps that Finn has a lot of training under his belt, so it was easy to tap into his good manners even when he was playin wit me.
In our adventures, we found some sculptures. We also practiced better obedience in the house with the help of a long leash.
Speaking of long leashes, we also hiked Leona Canyon (with Finn on a long leash, as pictured above). I had heard rumors that the trail had been very degraded by the masses of dog walkers who use it for their daily hikes, but I had yet to see it for myself. It was immediately apparent that the “No Dogs in Creek” signs are not respected (whether by dog walkers or dog owners, I can’t say). I would suggest that if people can’t keep dogs out of the creek, to try using a long leash like Finn is sporting happily above. Not only does it help with listening, but it helps protect our beautiful East Bay Regional Parks.
There were no other cars in the parking lot when we pulled in. I quickly learned why! Within 5 minutes of our hike we were all dripping with mud. The mud cake on my boots was 4 inches all around at some points. But we still had fun though!
Mabel is such a Pepa-copy-cat. So that means her recalls are on point and her sits-at-a-distance are getting there. She was literally looking at Pepa sitting far away, and then would sit where she was. Too good!