Pilgrim’s Progress

Pilgrim – Definition and More from the Free Merriam-Webster Dictionary.

Both definitions of pilgrim (non-capitalized!) fit our Sawyere, if you think of Sherri’s training school as a shrine and Sawyere as a devotee.  Based on the progress he made in just one afternoon with her, I’d say that, ‘shrine’ is perfectly appropriate. 

Before I really get started, let me issue a disclaimer.  I had about 2.5 hours sleep, and an extremely long day with little food and not enough water, and I’m feelin’ it.  But I’m so happy, none of that seems to matter–it’s just that it may affect my spelling.  🙂

I was up until 2:30 or thereabouts, writing back and forth to the female Beloveds about their new Minihound, Mazy.  If you are thinking you’ve never heard of a Minihound, you can see one right here at, ‘Mazy Has Landed’.  At five, I got up and headed out to Sawyere’s dorm to do his first bathroom, breakfast, and play time.

I really am so tired that I’m going to write poorly, but at least I’ll get it down before I forget.

He held his peeps and poops all night, and was very relieved to get out to do his business.  This bodes well for his future adopters, although it’s not a certain-sure indicator.

After he ate his breakfast, I took him out to a big play yard at his dorm, the only area with a fence too high for him to jump (although, initially we thought one section of it was ‘iffy’).  Damned if he didn’t zero in on that section, and assess its height with his eyes, twice!  There’s no way I’m imagining it–he was onto that possibility immediately, and I was quick to distract him.  I’ll keep a close watch on it–and by the way, other Team Sawyere members, please notice that the white plastic sections are lower than the chain link parts!  But you know what?  I think that, after today, he might be much less interested.  He’s got a lot of new things to think about now…

So, back to our time in the play yard.  Sawyere ran.  He ran for the sheer joy of running, all over the area, as fast as he could, turning so quickly he was almost somersaulting.  It was delightful to watch, and I laughed for joy.  We were both so happy he was free.

When he got a little tired, he remembered me.  A few times, he turned and ran straight at me.  I swear, I believe he was doing a version of that game teenagers play in cars, ‘chicken’.  I decided that the best thing I could do was just to stand, still and relaxed.  It seemed to work, although I did flinch once or twice–a quick kneebend to make sure he didn’t push me over, if he didn’t ‘chicken out’.  At the last second, though, he did move just enough to miss me, although once he had to leap into the air to clear me.  I’ve never seen a dog do that.  For all I know, they do it all the time.  

By then, I’d realized that he was, possibly, the smartest dog I’d ever met (although I really don’t know what I mean by that, because, as I’ve written here before, there are so many different kinds of canine intelligence, just as there are many different types of human intelligence).  Anyway, it doesn’t matter right now, when it’s almost midnight and I have to be back at Sawyere’s dorm at 6:00 or 6:30.  Sawyere is wicked smart, people!

Next, he unearthed a ball and began playing with it, sounding like the Tazmanian devil, only with a lower voice.  I didn’t play with him, with the ball, until just as we were getting ready to go, because I’d been told he had some resource guarding issues, and I felt that a toy might be as valuable to him as the rawhide which had caused the problem.  I occasionally kicked the ball for him, when he let it lie for a second. 

During one of those kicks, his leash, which I’d hidden beneath my coat when he’d started to show signs that he thought it was perfect for tug of war, fell onto the ground, and Sawyere grabbed that opportunity so fast my head spun.  He wanted me so badly to pull on the other end of that thing!  That’s how I learned just how strong he is–trying to get the leash back.  He may be the only dog I’ve met who might have won a tug game with me, no matter how hard I’d tried.  I didn’t feel like ‘tug’ was a wise thing to be doing with him before he’d seen Sherri, so I dropped the leash and let him have it.  He had a total heyday with that leash, not once, but three times.  Two more times I managed to grab the leash, after he’d lost momentary interest in it, and hide it under my coat, but it fell out again, and every time, he was right there, trying to wrest it from me.  At some point, he jumped straight up, and licked my eye, under my glasses.  He’s an outrageous jumper–straight up, lookin’ like a kangaroo or something.  And twice, as he shook that leash like a crazy man, he looked at me out of the corner of his eyes, very briefly, to see if he was getting a reaction.  

I’ve since learned that he was doing that with his leash, back at the Elmore shelter.  I realized how hard it was going to be to get that leash, which was his temporary special toy, attached to his collar again.  And it was.  His neck is his sensitive spot, and I was determined to have no incident that might jeopardize his adoption.  I tried every gentle or sneaky way I could think of, freezing my hands off out there (the whole breakfast/play episode was a little over two hours), which made me worried about numbness and stiffness, which would reduce my ability to hold his leash.

Finally, it was one of the staff who helped me with him.  We both bent down, and she fed him some treats and engaged his attention, while I stealthily clipped the leash to his collar.  He was getting tired, by that point; otherwise I don’t think we would have been succesful.  Even with his tiredness, we had to try over and over again before we got it. 

I left him with fresh water and biscuits, looking like he was ready for a nap.   Nice.

I went back to get him in time for his lesson with Sherri.  He didn’t want to get into his crate, so he rode in the passenger seat.  I had a couple of bad moments while I wondered whether he was a ‘car guardian’.  But he wasn’t, and our whole trip was fine, although he was terribly nervous. 

There are videos of Sawyere’s lesson with Sherri, so I won’t write much about it until those vids are on Sawyere’s Facebook page.  I loved the lesson, and it seems to have helped immensely, after just one day.

On our car ride home, he lay down in the seat (having him learn to relax was something Sherri had been working on), and put his paws and head on my lap.  I realized at some point that, in one day, I’d gone from being slightly ‘afraid’ of Sawyere to feeling protective of him.  It may have been when he sat up and gave me a carefully-considered kiss.  🙂  He’s a wonderful dog, in every way.  I’m sure that what we’re doing is going to get him a home.

He had a big dinner and a nice walk, and then I put his crate into his kennel, gave him a nifty toy Sherri’d presented to him as a gift–a Twist ‘n’ Treat, which he loves, and which I’d stuffed with a mixture of kibble and peanut butter–and fresh water with Sherri’s mixture of Bach flower essences in it, and said a fond good night.  I could tell that he and I shared a little love today, and are building the foundation of a nice relationship.

We can add some bricks to it tomorrow, at 6:00 AM.  I’d like to get at least four hours of sleep today, so I’ll write more later.

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One Response to Pilgrim’s Progress

  1. Jeanne Lokar says:

    Ingrid: If there is such a thing as a Fast Pass (ala the Thruway) into Heaven, surely there will be one on your forehead! You really do personify the “Walk the talk” mantra!!!
    I, too, felt myself feeling real affection and joy with, and for, Sawyere yesterday. Clearly, this Canine American has the makings of one Seriously Fine Pet. For the right person/family. I don’t know if it’s Sherri’s amazing skill, or his intellegence (or the combo-pack), but it looks crystal clear to me that this boy is exceedingly trainable and is destined for a terrific future.
    I await instructions for his care from you, Ingrid. As I mentioned, my schedule is always hectic, but flexible, for the most part. I’m fully on-board to help. After all that you have put into this dog, we sure don’t want any missteps at this point.
    You rock, Ingrid. You really do.

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