Last week was Hermione's five month birthday. I can't believe how fast the time has gone by and how much she's grown. She used to be this little thing that looked like a wind-up toy and now she's all legs and floppy Spaniel ears. She's a sweetie, despite her house training problems. Her sit is reliable and she will down if you have a food or toy reward. She's even started playing fetch in the house with me. She's even gotten pretty strong on the leash for a small breed. My only concern, besides the potty training wich I think will come with time, is her reaction to strange dogs. She's great with Glacier and Roscoe. In fact, she plays tug of war with the big boys and Roscoe likes to play a "keep away" game of sorts with her, but with unknown dogs she is skiddish and sometimes barks; very not cool.
I know it's been because of her lack of exposure to different dogs. No matter how hard I've tried, finding other dogs or puppies for Hermione to meet and/or play with has proven very difficult as a blind person. I had one dog trainer offer to have us come to her puppy class, but twice she's stood us up. I've left comments on UK forums, hoping that there are people in my area wanting to have play dates, but so far no luck. When I go to the park, we are walking and so it's harder for us to find other dogs. I can't see to know if the dogs are walking or socializing and often I don't know they are there until they have passed.
Both Glacier and Hermione's body language tells me that another dog is approaching and I have started attempting to engage the owner and dog in order to assist Hermione with her uncertainty. I think that is all it is because when the dog is far away she is very excited and when the dog starts leaving, she gets all excited and wants to follow it. If we stand still long enough, she starts to get over her uncertainty and will come out from behind me to sniff the other dog and to allow the other dog to sniff her. If the dog is incredibly exuberant, she's having none of it. Yesterday we met three different dogs I was able to have her meet, but it seems to be the luck of the draw because today we haven't run into any.
I also think part of the block comes from Glacier being a working dog and people actually respecting him. It's great, but I'm not sure how to be out with both dogs and have people approach us. I've thought about using a White Cane to walk Hermione, so all my attention can be on her, but that brings up a whole bunch more social restrictions. Somehow though, I have to remedy this because I do not want her uncertainty to turn into dog aggression or fear. She's fantastic with people and we really want her to be a therapy dog. She can't be if she is cranky with other furry ones.
So, for now, I'll continue going out in public spaces where there should be other dogs and hope we can't create a few connections. Carmen said she'll help find other dogs this week-much easier when you can see them coming- but I know that this sort of thing isn't exactly her cup of tea and I'd need to do this more than once. Also, I know I'm far away from most of you, but if anyone knows of anyone in Edinburgh who may want to have play dates, let me know. :) Every little bit helps.