After letting the tension build for another 5 days, we were finally able to take Jaz out for her very first walk this past Wednesday. We weren’t sure what to expect. Some puppies are scared to visit new places and just sit down in protest, immovable. Others try to crawl up their owner’s leg in fear. Well, we were happy to find out that neither of these things were the case with Jaz… she was raring to go! So much so, that there wasn’t an inch of slack in her leash the entire time we were outside of our yard. Whether it was in front, behind, or beside me, Jaz insisted on meandering the circumference of the small five-foot circle her leash allowed her. ‘Heel,’ a command she can execute perfectly in the comfort of our own home and yard, seemed no longer part of her vocabulary. If something was scary, she would try to run away from it, if it was exciting, she would try to run towards it. Nothing (except for myself) fell in the category that lays in-between the two; uninteresting.
[Side-note: we obviously didn’t take pictures during our first few walks. The pictures you will find in this post are from last weekend, when Jaz was a bit more at ease. We purchased a long, retractable leash for her, so she could run around a bit.]
While Jaz remained in full fight-or-flight mode, we managed to make it past the tennis courts, through the park, and around the block. That afternoon, for good measure, we threw in a visit to the ocean as well. Regardless of the panting and heaving due to all the pulling (so glad we bought a martingale collar, otherwise she would have horizontally hung herself that day), and the growling and barking at the sight of other dogs, people and the odd ghost or two, Jaz was determined to take the world by storm. The verdict? Cars are scary, busses are scarier, but tractor-trailers are by far the scariest. Grass is fun, but nothing beats peeing in your own yard. The ocean is okay, as long as you manage to stay dry. And dogs are exciting, but people trump dogs as long as they don’t come in a stroller or with a backpack (children are definitely not Jaz’s strong suit… she seems to take after her adoptive mother).
You’ll be glad to know, though, that the second day we took Jaz out went much better than the first. After a good night’s sleep (which undoubtedly involved a lot of leg-twitching and whimpering to process everything that had gone on the day before), Jaz figured that, if she couldn’t go where she wanted whenever she wanted, she might as well heel for a moment or two between stimuli. Another perk is that it must have felt nice to be able to breathe and swallow effortlessly. There was slack in the leash about 40% of the time. Not too bad! Thanks to the more easy-going attitude, we met a lot of new dogs. Chase, Jax, Juno… it will be hard to keep up with all the names… and we haven’t even started on their owners yet! I discovered that this dog-walking thing didn’t just open up a new world for Jaz, but also for myself. Our neighbourhood is a real dog-walking-community! And a lot of these people seem to know each other. They sip coffee from their travel mugs while they watch their dogs chase each other around at 8 in the morning.
Being the neighbourhood’s newbie, Jaz must have been the first thing on these coffee-sippers’ lips, because the third day we were out walking, we discovered that a rumour had gone around about her already. A lady with a Labrador came up to us, and asked: “Is this the little Wheaten terrier pup I’ve been hearing about?” Lakelands are pretty rare, so I’ll forgive whoever started the rumour for calling Jaz a Wheaten (then again… a Wheaten… really?), but I must admit it is kind of neat that, in a large city like Vancouver, this kind of small-town-gossip is still possible!
We have been walking Jaz for a week now. In the mornings, we stick close to home and visit Tatlow park. In the afternoons, we try to explore new places such as Jericho beach, Spanish Banks and Pacific Spirit regional park (we are so fortunate to live in such a nature-rich city!). And at night, we roam the streets, admiring people’s Christmas lights (some streets are very ambitious and organize full-blown contests!).
With every walk, we are developing new routines and creating new traditions for years to come… Stride on, Jaz, stride on!