A couple of weeks ago the vet gave me the OK to start taking Buffy out on jogs. I had been told to be careful because running too early can be bad for the joints of big dogs. But both the vet and the shelter people told us that the sheepdog in her is going to keep her small, so we’ve started.
After a couple days of running with her, Kimball asked if he could come along with us on his bike. This seemed like a good idea, so we started going.
The first few days went well. We wake up in the morning pretty early. Kimball gets dressed, and we head out. We aren’t breaking any speed records (yet), but it’s been really good for all three of us to get out of the house and exercising to start the day.
Then a couple of days ago we decided to go further up the canyon than we had before. At this point the trail gets quite a bit steeper. This was tough for Kimball because the riding is all uphill. So most of the way up the canyon we are doing kind of a power walk. Then we turned around and started heading down the canyon.
Now instead of going really slow, Kimball was going really fast — faster than I’ve ever seen him ride a bike. Soon he was out of my view and (I would soon find out) out of control.
Then He crashed.
I didn’t actually see it, but given the speed he was going, it’s remarkable that he didn’t get hurt worse than he did. As it turned out, he munged up his finger pretty bad, and his shoulder a little bit. It was a fair amount of blood on the finger, but nothing in my mind to warrant Kimball's EXTREME reaction. The way he was crying, you’d have thought he had broken his arm or something.
I think I had already started the day in an annoyed mood. Then on the run Buffy was pretty distracted and I’d had to coax Kimball all the way up the canyon. The crash sort of put me over the edge. I gave Kimball a hug and tried to tough-love him back onto his bike, but that was not going to happen. So then I tried to tough-love him into walking his bike since I had a very excited and fairly strong dog in one hand. Kimball wasn’t having any of that either. My emotions escalated and his emotions escalated.
Then we started passing people with dogs. Buffy is very social. She likes other dogs, and she has a hard time focusing on the walk/run when other dogs come by. That morning I would have sworn everyone in Cedar City had brought their dog up the canyon. So I’ve got this hysterical Kimball walking on one side of me, and a hyperactive husky in one hand and Kimball's bike in the other. I knew we would need to walk probably a mile and a half to get to the park where Betty could pick us up.
It wasn't fun.
When we finally got home I was in a funk. I just couldn't concentrate. I was totally out of sorts because I felt like I had failed some kind of test. Kimball wasn't feeling well, Buffy wasn't feeling well, and I wasn't feeling well. Betty told me that next time I was in a similar situation I should just sit still with Kimball until he had calmed down.
So yesterday we went back out. Kimball did a pretty good job of riding, and Buffy did ok running, but mostly I just tried to breathe deep and stay calm -- enjoying the morning. We got up the canyon, we came down the canyon, we got back to the park. Kimball had to go potty. He went. He came out running, excited to jump back on his bike.
He tripped ...
and fell smack on his face.
His nose started and upper lip started bleeding (pretty bad actually), and he went into hysterics again. This time, however, I was prepared. I got him some tissue, and we sat down on the grass to wait out the crying -- calmly re-assuring him that he could take his time to find his deep breaths. Everyone, even Buffy, calmed down pretty quickly. When Kimball was feeling up to it, I encouraged him to get on the bike again and we rode home peacefully. It didn't seem like there were nearly as many dogs out, but the few we passed were no problem for Buffy. She did a great job feeding off of our calm energy.
It's not every day that we get a mulligan on our bad parenting from the day before. (Actually now that I think about it I bet we get that chance more than we are aware of). I'm grateful that I got it yesterday. I am learning the value of patience and doing my best to keep calm alpha energy with my little pack. I'm not always great at it, but I'm always glad when I do.
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