On March 27th, Gimli and I went to the First Annual Dog Jog to benefit PetTrust. This is an organization that provides support for the University's Vet School so the students are able to research rare illnesses and utilize up to date equipment/technology. As much as I tease Mike about living in a "college town", I'm very glad there's a vet clinic a mere 15 minutes away just in case Gimli develops some strange illness etc.
Gimli doesn't get to play with other dogs very often and he LOVES playing with his doggie friends, so as you would expect, he becomes very excited when he sees other dogs. We are working on this especially on walks. Because we would be in the company of a great many dogs at the Dog Jog, Mike was a little apprehensive that I would be unable to control Gimli.
I was not scared in the least. I had been working with Gimli for weeks before, keeping him focused on me on the walk and just asserting myself a la Cesar Millan. I had made some progress and when Mike walked him when the snow melted he remarked there was a definite change in Gimli. YAY!
On the day of the Jog, I woke early and took Gimli for a nice walk. There was no one on the streets yet so it was quiet and calm. I fed Gimli, I got ready and off we went. We were running late, grrr, and I had to return to get my gloves, good thing I did as it was below freezing that morning! I felt myself becoming agitated that we would be late and I sort of yelled at myself to calm down else I would go into the event in the wrong frame of mind.
I relaxed my shoulders, took a deep breath and we continued on.
We arrived at The Arboretum in time and quite early as there were only a handful of other people and dogs there. Gimli saw the other dogs and started to get hyper. Some of the Vet students saw Gimli, who was the only corgi and we all know how handsome he is, and they were all squealing at his cuteness! Trust me, Gimli didn't mind this one bit. My first test came when a female student came over to play with him and he was acting hyper. I got him into a 'Down' and he relaxed and then I let them play.
"Hmmm, this is getting better," I thought to myself.
We had to wait as the swag packages were not yet ready, which was ok for me. Gimli and I stood off to the side, I got him into a sit next to me and we people/dog watched. There were all sorts of dogs!
Plenty of Golden Retrievers, a few Labs - chocolate and yellow, a few Pugs, some mixes, a Great Dane who Gimli took a liking to, a lovely calm Akita, some Shelties, some Puggles, some Beagles, a Basset Hound, a Saint Bernard and a couple Jack Russel Terriers.
As Gimli and I stood off to the side, I was able to get a reading off the dogs and their owners. Most, maybe 90% of them were calm and assertive. There were a few like me who were working on their calm assertiveness and then there were the ones who allowed their dogs to pull them everywhere. One Puggle and the Jack Russel Terriers were behaving in this way. I made a mental note to keep Gimli away from them because I knew their energy combined with Gimli's need to meet everyone would be a bad combination.
Finally, they announced the Signin desk was ready so we all lined up to check in and get our numbers. I had a twinge of uncertainty as I had to line up with Gimli and other dogs but I dismissed it. We got in line and slowly made our way forward. To my surprise, Gimli did not pull, he didn't try to jump on the other people or dogs who were in line with us. We got our number and this nice lady helped pin it onto my shirt.
We walked back to the car to drop off our goodie bag and on the way back, the owner of the Basset Hound remarked, "Finally another dog with short legs, gotta represent!"
We retreated off to the side again, but not as far as before. By this time, people had the same idea that I did and started congregating closer to the starting position. I allowed Gimli to meet other dogs here and he behaved. I spoke to a few people about Gimli and Pembroke Welsh Corgis in general. Suddenly, there was a piercing bay from a Beagle. Gimli did his usual, 'Woof' and I gave him a correction and he settled down. I didn't want him to freak out every time the Beagle bayed, which I figured would be all the time since there were so many other dogs! Gimli then went back to the other dogs like nothing happened.
"Excellent," I thought like Mr. Burns.
We continued to wait and eventually I realized there was roughly 60-70 dogs in this area, all just hanging out with their owners and each other. I've heard Cesar Millan speak on the power of the pack and the feeling of being in a pack before, but I never believed I would experience it for myself until that day. It was overwhelming to be in the middle of it all, my dog being influenced by them all and behaving. It made it easier on me to relax, which in turn helped Gimli to feel at ease. I still don't know how to describe it, but that's as close as I can get.
At one point, I was looking off to the side, when the unmistakable sounds of a dog fight broke out. I whipped my head around to the direction of the noise. About 15 feet away with a bunch of people between us one of the aforementioned Puggle and Jack Russel Terriers were fighting. This all happened in a matter of seconds, the owners were on it and separated them, then went their separate ways. While this was going on, the dogs closest to the fight started barking, which I imagine was the dogs way of saying to the fighters, "Knock it off!". Then, the most amazing thing happened. The uncertainty of the fight and the barking started spreading outward in ripples as it affected the other dogs. By the time it got to Gimli and I, I knew there was nothing to worry about, but I had to give Gimli some corrections so he would relax and not get caught up in that mess. He quieted down quite quickly and things were back to normal.
Some minutes later, the organizers gave us the instructions. The 5k runners without dogs were to go first, followed by the 5k runners/walkers with dogs. Then, the 2k runners without dogs and finally the 2k runners/walkers with dogs were to go next. We were in the last group.
We lined up, got into our heel position and off we went. The sides of the paths were quite snowy so Gimli and I walked and pounced in the snow as we passed the slower moving people. I remember looking down at Gimli to see him looking back at me with those big brown eyes full of life as we walked and I was elated! I had wanted something like this to happen for so long, to bring him into a pack of dogs and be unafraid and it was finally here!
We continued on and stopped at a refreshment station. I got some water and Gimli, being a corgi after all, had to drink from not one but both bowls of water! I guess he thought he would be missing out on the 2nd bowl, who knows!
Coming back, we passed these walkers and I heard them giggle at Gimli's wiggling butt. Its a corgi trademark!
All too soon, our 2k walk ended. I wanted to do more, but I don't think I could have done a 5k walk though, but its something to work up to!
Back at the event, Gimli and I shared an apple. The picture above is him waiting for his piece. I don't think I've mentioned this before on the blog, but Gimli loves apples. He knows what apples look like and the sound the crisper drawer makes in the fridge when I open it. When he saw me grab an apple, he ran back to me and sat down. The world melted away and it was just Gimli and I and our apple. We shared as we usually do, much to the amusement of passersby.
There was a giveaway too at the event and wouldn't you know we won a new dog bed! Gimli likes it already! Its bigger than he is, but it looks just the right size for 2 little corgis to curl up in.... hmmm.....
When we came home, I couldn't stop raving to Mike about Gimli's behavior and how Cesar Millan has the right idea in terms of being in the right frame of mind and relaxed.
I struggled for a long time in finding my 'calm and assertive' voice because I always sounded angry. Now I feel I have found my voice and Gimli and I will go far!