As the title of this post would suggest, the other night I took just Hermione and Nala out for a free run. I usually pair Hermione and Otis together since Nala gets most of her exercise/stimulation from working, but the other night she was due for a free run. As for Hermione, she's always due for a free run. So, I filled two Kongs with peanut butter and left Roscoe and Otis happily munching away in the living room and leashed up the ladies.
It's funny how the dogs know what cues mean what. Nala knows as soon as I get her collar down with the bell that she's either going out to work or out to play. Either way, she gets excited. Hermione knows as soon as I fill my pockets with treats and grab my cane, we're going for a run which makes her excited. Despite their excitement, both girls waited patiently for me to get my coat and shoes on. Nala sat perfectly still, trying very hard to be good even though she was quivering with excitement and Hermione tried to hold her sit, but kept popping back up to stand and stare at the door. I would have her sit back down of course to reiterate to her that she needed to be calm and wait. With leashes, shoes and coat on, we headed off.
It had rained earlier in the evening and so I figured the girls would need a rinse by the time we got back, but the rain had stopped and the evening was quite pleasant. We walked for probably close to an hour. The girls responding very nicely to the whistle recall. It made me a proud dog mom when I blew the whistle and Hermione would prance over to me, putting her paws on my thigh to let me know she was there and Nala would come crashing towards me, skidding into a sit in front of me. Both girls would sit, have their reward and then be released. It was one of the most enjoyable walks I've had. It was later in the evening and since it had rained, the cycling traffic was down and that relieved a lot of stress. It was also nice having two well behaved dogs that I could rely on coming back when called.
I think the girls enjoyed themselves too. Whenever Nala would go charging past me, there always came the little pitter patter of Hermione's paws, hot on Nala's heels. Their bells jangling away kept me aware of their location and that meant I knew when I needed to blow the whistle to have them come back. They both responded very nicely to verbal cues as well. Once, Nala decided she was a mountain goat and started climbing the side of the ravine that hems in one side of the path. I whistled her back and when I heard her heading back in that direction, all I had to say was "Nala, no" and she turned back around. Granted, she tried three times before she realised I wasn't going to let her go back up there, but she always re-routed her line of travel when I directed her.
They certainly did need to be rinsed off when we got home, but it didn't really bother me. Hermione allowed me to pick her up and put her in the tub. She was just as patient as I sprayed her legs and belly off. Nala hopped in the tub on her own. At first, she needed a bit of convincing, but she did it and was promptly sprayed down as well.
I love walking all of my dogs, but the girls are the easiest. Otis likes to go off and eat everything he sees and has to stay on leash. He's a French pig remember? We didn't nickname Roscoe "Ranger Roscoe" for nothing. He likes roaming through the forest, sniffing out rabbits and foxes and he's a bit slow on the recall. I've been loading the whistle as you would with a clicker and I'm hoping that it will be a solution to Roscoe's slow returns. I like letting Roscoe and Nala run together because they are nearer in size, but when he's running, Nala tends to take on his ranging qualities and is slower coming back when called. It's just something I'll keep working on with Roscoe and then maybe I'll have three dogs who return right away when they hear the whistle. As for the French Pig? His little piggie urges may be stronger than associating whistle with yummy treat. Maybe I should start feeding him mud when he comes back when called. ;)
Regardless, it was a very nice walk with my girls and I think the next time Nala is due a free run, I will pair her and Hermione together again. Besides, sometimes you just need a girls' night.