Be ready to meet Pippa, a black Border Collie mix with a German shepherd and Penny, a Rottweiler mix with a Labrador Retriever.
On my first visit, Pippa immediately let me know how territorial and protective of her owners and territory she was. She barked for about fifteen minutes as I stood in the house and then ‘gave up’ to sit beside her owner; alert and wary.
Penny on the other hand checked me out and walked back to her throne, er, I mean the couch. She’s very calm-natured and carries a sweet, I’ll-do-what-I-please attitude that sometimes gets her in trouble.
Yesterday’s visit was interesting, to say the least. Pippa greeted me with a few barks and then happily sat down for me to put her leash. She was excited and animated. Perfect. Penny performed her usual routine; tail wag, lick my face, investigate if I’ve brought her anything goodies and then…back to the couch. Exclusively in that order. I’m teaching them to sit patiently before going outside and before going back in with me going first on both occasions.
Both dogs haven’t been taught to walk on a short leash. They’ve gotten used to a retractable one, which always allowed them too much freedom and no boundaries. Pippa was pretty certain that she owned any sidewalk she walked on. So with a change of leash and a strong projection of leadership, Pippa and Penny are rocking the neighborhood.
Pippa’s bark is absolutely intimidating and will reasonably make any stranger uncomfortable but already on my third visit, she’s rapidly warming up to me. She has a remarkable amount of energy that never dimmers and she seems ready for any task.
I’ve been told and even witnessed Pippa using Penny as a toy, sometimes during walks but mostly when playing off-leash. Pippa is by far the most dominant yet carries the least confidence. She’s insecure in a situation she has no control over and remedies that by eating snow. I can’t stop her from eating it, you know? Snow being widespread and all. But I can avoid it. I’ll have to change her nervous state of mind to a confident one. In other words, stop that habit before she even thinks about it.