Golden Retrievers Speak: Going for a Walk

Josh:   When mommy and daddy first brought me home, I wasn’t very good at the walking thing.   I would keep my head to the ground for pretty much the entire walk, refusing to look up at the world around me.    I was interested in the occasional squirrel, but for the most part, if I put my head any lower, I would have bloodied my nose!

Jeter:  Daddy started me off slowly with walks – he would walk me around the block slowly, just to get me used to it.    He found out quickly that, just like with training class, I was a natural when it came to walking.    I would pull on my leash if I saw a squirrel or cat, but for the most part, I stuck by his side, refusing to get too far ahead.   My daddy would often stand back a bit to let me get ahead, and I would just stop and look back at him.

Alanis:  I was a bad walker at first.  A very bad walker.   I would often walk down the street and stop in my tracks.   There were certain streets I refused to walk down for reasons only I knew.    After 15 minutes or so, I was ready to go home.  For the first several weeks, he refused to cross over busy roads with me in fear that I would stop dead in my tracks, so we stuck very close to the neighborhood.   I would pull and tug at the sight of another animal, and I would bark uncontrollably if something bothered me.

Jeter:  I can attest to all of this, since Alanis is my walking partner!

Josh:   Suffice to say, due to my immobility, I don’t go on walks anymore.  There was a time when I would go with Jeter for the first walk of the day, and Jeter would go with Alanis on the second walk of the day.

Alanis:  Correct, Josh!   Jeter would get TWO walks while we would get ONE!  And they say there aren’t any favorites!

Me:   To be fair, Jeter is the most enthusiastic walker in the house and giving him a double walk always worked out well.  Nowadays, Jeter and Alanis just go for one long walk…..

Jeter:   Thanks, Daddy…..of course, during one of those Alanis/Jeter walks, we had what is famously referred to as the “Raccoon Incident”.

Alanis:  Funniest freaking thing ever!    Middle of the day, broad daylight, and Daddy walks right into the path of a rabid raccoon!   I understand he has a knack for some weird stuff happening to him – but this was really weird!

Jeter:  The jackass started running away from the critter, and feel squarely on his right shoulder, spraining it.  Thankfully for him, Alanis and I scared away the raccoon AND neighbors saw the incident (if only they got video!) and were able to come out and save Daddy (and us, who Daddy lost control of when he fell!)

Alanis:  This still makes me laugh – I know, it isn’t funny.  Yet, it is.   Daddy going to the emergency room over a raccoon!

Josh:  I wish I was there to see it.  Knowing me, I would have sniffed the raccoon and walked away.   Anyway, back to my original story, I eventually figured out “how” to walk.   For the next several years, I would hold my head up high when I walked, prancing along as if I didn’t have a care in the world.  My Daddy would always comment that if we didn’t live in a busy area, he could walk me without a leash.

Jeter:  I have essentially maintained my walking discipline, though I have figured out that if Daddy lets me go ahead of him, I should just keep prancing along – I have gained a lot of confidence.  And yes, even at seven, I still get very excited over squirrels and cats.   I am not fond of other dogs though.

Alanis:  Yeah, Jeter can get a little snippy if another dog enters his “space”.

Jeter:  I will warm up to a dog eventually, but people need to understand that it makes me nervous.  I know I am a cute, happy Golden walking down the street, but I have some insecurities, just like everyone else!

Alanis:  I am like Josh used to be – I want to socialize with everything, though I do it through barking, which tends to scare people more than anything else.  I am trying to be friendly!

Jeter:  Funny, isn’t it?   People are more afraid to approach Alanis with their dogs because she is barking, while they look at me as being more “dog-friendly” because I am quiet.     If only people would first talk to my owner before approach!

Me:  Indeed, Jeter.    Jeter is obviously a fantastic dog – but he gets nervous if strange dogs invade his space and will get a bit snippy.   If you have a dog like this, try to keep the dogs apart the best you can.   (Especially if the approaching dog is loose!).   KNOW YOUR DOG!  If you have an Alanis-like dog, explain to the other owner that the barking is more of a “Look! I’m here!” bark than a “Get away from me!” bark.   If you have a dog like Jeter, explain that your dog doesn’t like being approached and if you want them to meet, best to do it in a more controlled environment first, or to let Jeter do the approaching.   Also remember to watch the body language of the OTHER dog.  Sometimes, owners simply do not know their own dogs, and think they are friendlier than they actually are.    I have often turned my dogs in the other direction if I see another dog walking towards me.     I do that for safety reasons, mostly (I am walking two big dogs, after all!).  If a loose dog comes at us, I stay very calm and just try to keep the stray dog and Jeter apart, if possible.   As I said above, it all comes down to one big principle:   KNOW YOUR DOG.  

As an aside, the “raccoon incident” happened in August, 2015.  I still have lingering affects in my shoulder, but it is probably 99.9% healed.   If you get into this situation, you will have to use your best judgement – a raccoon in the middle of the afternoon is NEVER a good thing.   You also want to watch out for deer (especially if it is a mommy deer and you see her babies nearby), etc. Be alert of your surroundings and you should accomplish a healthy, fun walk for both yourself and your dogs.

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