After a last-minute text message last night to see if I was available for an early walk, I confirmed and was out the door at 7:20 to walk Huckleberry and Maybe for about an hour. A 7:30 walk isn’t too bad. Last week I walked the dogs at 6:45 one day and that was nice too. It’s still quiet on the roads, and people yawn and stretch inside their houses. The air is cool and birds sing.
Today is foggy and my face is misted as I whiz down the woods trails on my bicycle towards the Jackson house. I pass a stray dog looking quizzically at me as I ride by. Hopefully he’s not one of those dogs&bikes&bites kinda dogs. Phew. He wasn’t. I’m greeted on the front step by owner and two dogs; one happily waiting to move his joints and sniff out the neighbourhood; Huckleberry, or Huck for short. The other, Maybe, is extremely content sitting right where she is, and preparing to put up a fight with me once I take the leashes and commence the walk.
“Has Maybe been draggin’ ass lately?” the owner asks me as he hands over the leashes.
I narrow my eyebrows and look at Maybe as she stubbornly gets up from where she was perched on the front steps. “Umm she hasn’t been too bad. She tends to just “stop” all the sudden and not want to budge. Then I end up pulling her along anyway.”
Maybe is a stubborn dog. She is older than Huck and this makes me think that’s why she likes to take her sweet time. Because she honestly believes she’s going to find something reealllllll important if she sniffs for ten minutes in one spot. Often times, I refer to walking Maybe as a dog-“sit” rather than a dog-walk. Things get difficult when Maybe wants to have a sit and Huck wants to keep pulling along, led by his curious nose and wind-powered by his wagging tail. Have you ever seen a parent with a kid on each arm, one kid going one way and one kid going the other? That’s me with Huck and Maybe.
What usually ends up happening is Huck is told to sit, heel, go easy etc. over and over as I tug Maybe along on my right arm, making sure to keep my arm in front of me and keep my elbow bent, tensing my muscles just in case Maybe decides to put on the E-brake and attempt to yank my arm out.
This isn’t Maybe. It’s a random dog from Google Images.
These dogs are just like the kids I nanny for.
I have an eight-year-old boy, H, and an eleven-year-old girl, KM. H is just like Huck and KM is just like Maybe. When the two of them are together, H is pretty go-with-the-flow. He’s up for adventures, he wants to explore the world. He’s really obedient and compliant, and will always do whatever task I ask him to do e.g. bring your dirty dishes to the sink or put away the beach toys in the yard. He enjoys active sports with team mates and fair play. Though, as a young chap, he still needs a lot of help calling the shots and making decisions.
KM is bossy and thinks she knows everything. She tries to control every situation and gets angry when she realizes whose in charge (moi). When H declares a friendly game of soccer amongst us would be fun, her response is usually flat-out “No.” Saying she wants to go to the library and that there’s “no way” she’s going to participate in whatever H wants to do.
Unlike Maybe, I can’t legally put a leash around KM and yank her to whatever destination Huck and I are bounding to. Or in this case, H and I. Without getting arrested that is. But the cool thing about humans is our ability to reason and communicate with each other with words, tones and body language. But above all, with intentions. If I “side” with either of the kids for even a moment, the other one picks up that it’s “two against one” and he or she gets immediately angry and may start to yell or go find mom (who works from home, and is easily interrupted!).
When Maybe is having an extra-stubborn day, I take her into the woods. When amongst the trees and away from the road, I de-leash Maybe and let her free. Then she can go off and piss on as many ferns as she wants to until her bladder is more than empty. I do the same thing with KM. I hold the leash while we are trying to figure out a plan for the afternoon, what we’re doing and where we’re going, and as soon as we find something that works for everyone and she knows that the world doesn’t revolve around her 11-year-old self, I let her free. No games are played. No tug-of-war. I don’t even pick up the rope. She will try to get me to play tug-of-war with her often, but I avoid it and don’t participate. I stay a step ahead of her and place my emotions and sense-of-worth in high places where she can’t reach.