As we wrote about earlier, we are getting back to work - attending training classes, going on daily walks, and socializing more. We finally had a chance to go to social hour on Saturday. Tess was in the rink while Ed was outside, on-lead.
Ed was doing great -- he stayed focus when a small-fluffy came through on his way to a groom and when an amped boxer made her way to join social.
Halfway through, a super friendly black lab came in with his owner. As Sam was trying to keep Ed's attention, the lab came running up on Ed and a small scuffle ensued. No one was hurt, but it made us assess the situation and see several missteps by all parties:
- I had been giving Sam a head's up when I saw a dog coming to the door. I was checking my phone for the time, and missed this one coming in. By the time I noticed, Sam had already seen them.
- Sam was trying to keep Ed's attention with a treat, but this meant he didn't have a firm grip on his leash (as you may already know, Sam only has one hand; this makes it difficult to treat and restrain simultaneously).
- The lab's owner, knowing her dog was friendly, allowed Grace her full leash length to run up on Ed.
- With a loose-leash himself, Ed got close to the dog, but didn't go into gremlin-mode until Sam grabbed him to pull him back -- Sam accidentally got scruff when grabbing for his collar, which we think might have scared Ed, making him react to the lab.
While Edison did have a hold of Grace, luckily he didn't injure her at all. Unfortunately, because Ed was so buckled down, Sam had to grab hold tight on his leash, which pulled all the skin off his middle finger. Yuck.
This incident cannot be attributed to one action or inaction, but instead to the culmination of the factors above. So we've learned a few lessons and are going to be sure to do things differently to avoid this situation or possibly worse in the future:
- We're going to get Edison a vest saying something along the lines of "Please, give me space." When Tess is wearing her therapy dog vest, people always think twice and make sure she's okay to pet (and not a service dog).
- We're going to have a hands-free leash holder made for Sam's wrist. It's hard to explain, but basically it will allow Sam to "keep hold" of Ed's leash when he can't actually hold it.
- We're going to be more assertive when people approach us, even at a distance; we've noticed that we've been compensating for others' mismanagement. Jessica from Notes from a Dog Walker wrote a great post about this here.
And keeping with our lists, there are a few things we are extremely grateful for:
- That we have an environment such as Mud Puppies that allows us to socialize Ed, knowing that he has issues and for all the help the owner, Kim, has been in getting Ed to where he is.
- That we're a part of a great dog community, in Erie and online, that not only understands our difficulties but also provides us with unique insights.
- That the owner of the lab was super gracious about the incident and recognized that these things can happen and it's everyone's responsibility to try to mitigate these risks.
We've learned that it all comes down to management and knowing our dogs' limitations. Although, we were discouraged, we're going to double our efforts with Edison to make him a more social pooch.
How to do manage your dog's limitations?