Thursday, January 4, 2007

A Woman, A Whistle and A Wienerdog

That's how we started 2007. My good friend Rachel (a photographer in Ithaca, NY) sent me a training whistle for Christmas, and I wondered if I should teach Ellie to answer it.

See, I have Multiple Sclerosis, and my wee doggie Ellie is the reason I can walk without a cane. She was supposed to be a mini-dachshund, but she's a good bit larger than that, due to her Jack Russell mother and two doting human GrandOwners who like to share with her.

The Owner, MamaDog, lives in Golden Glow, a village just outside the town of Elmira, NY. Out there, Ellie lives with a real Dachshund and an American Foxhound. She gets plenty of exericise with them in their fenced in yard.

Husband RJ and I live in the City of Elmira, a country sort of town, but our yard is small. We do have sidewalks for Ellie and the Chemung River is four blocks south. I began by walking with Ellie, allowing her to keep the leash tense. This balanced me rather well. But Ellie became very aggressive with people, because I wasn't well, and she was protecting me.

Cesar Millan changed that. Now Ellie walks at my side, and I am well enough to walk slowly, and sometimes briskly, with her there. We had some near disasters, and I fell on her once, but we manage. We even walked to the Chemung and enjoyed the strand of trees and floodplain. Our travels are here and here.

This year is a new chapter. Our first trip with the whistle took us to the Grove Street Fishing Access and Boat Launch site. We were alone--not even the waterfowl--and I unhooked the leash and let her run. Every once in a while I tooted for her, and rewarded her return with Greenies or just an ear-rub.

It was a howling success. She ran, and I simply walked in the direction I wanted to go, over to the little island behind the Water Board. I whistled when I needed her to tow me up the levee, and when anyone else approached.

She loves her new game. So do I. If you enjoy that sort of thing, welcome to Riverdogging.

Little Pond

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