November 4th 2012 6:46 pm
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Yesterday I took the dogs hiking with my friend X. Our friend JP ("Uncle JP" to the dogs) was supposed to join us but canceled at the last minute, so I thought it would be just the two humans and three dogs. Angie has hiked with JP and X several times now, so I was looking forward to a low-key afternoon.
When we got to the trail head, there was a crew working on the park, a crew comprised of some people I know, people who wanted to check in with me, pass information to me, get information from me, and pet the beautiful dogs. Yuki was all over that, Claire just wanted to hit the trail, and Angie was... calmer than I expected, given that 5 of the strangers (to her) were men, many in hats and heavy work gloves, with beards, or other perhaps unusual features. She approached a few of the people, but backed away as soon as they tried to pet her. Given all the activity and the fact that we were in a strange place, I was pleased that she stayed calm, quiet, and did not give the impression of any more skittishness than Claire-dog (Claire is aloof but not fearful of strangers; you can almost hear her say, "How rude; we just met!").
On the trail with X and X's friend, Angie was free and happy, chasing Yuki and Claire and whatever else. She checks in more regularly with me when I have people with me on the trail - but since Claire and Yuki do, too, I am not sure if she is nervous about the people or just following the other dogs' lead. X's friend was impressed with the manners of all three dogs, coming when called, checking in periodically, and not pushing past when the trail narrowed but waiting to pass when the trail was wider again.
After the hike, our local councilman nabbed me at the trailhead and wanted to chat. As he is renowned for having much to say (and all of it interesting, I must add), I let the dogs out to explore a bit. When he tried to pet Angie, that turned out to be the moment all the novelty of the day became too much for her. She barked at him, circling from a safe distance, and refused to enter the car until I opened a door on the opposite side from where he was standing. Once there, she quieted and was fine in the car while I said my goodbyes.
Today I have not asked Angie to step outside her comfort zone at all - I don't want to overdo it and though she was great yesterday, yesterday was far more than I had planned or wanted for her. Today instead we have been hanging out in the house, hunting millipedes in the back woods, and get relaxing. She even has coped well with Yuki's lack of desire for play today (he worked at the field station with me this afternoon, and herding college students is hard work).
Angie has come so far since May: from a nearly feral dog to one who is house-broken, paper-trained, walks well on leash, and is learning to trust people. I really hope that some one soon realizes how great she is and adopts her.
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