I confess. I have been unsuccessful at leash training Jack. No training was needed for Chie; she just naturally heels. Even when we’re just walking around the yard she walks alongside me obediently. Madeline didn’t require any training either outside of those 13 weeks of Puppy Obedience. But Jack… my smallest dog is my worst nightmare on a leash.
Jack was also my first dog. When I first brought him home we used to go for runs around the neighborhood. I didn’t try to teach him to heel then; I was too busy trying to keep up with him, which was dumb. No human can ever run as fast as a Basenji. It was a good work out though.
So now I take Chie out & walk her, then I come back & take Madeline out & walk her, but Jack doesn’t get to go out. A partial dislocation of my left wrist earlier this year has left me rather leery of trying to walk him. So, he gets to go to the dog park every so often. It’s not for the exercise as much as the QT & some time away from The Pack.
Jack’s high strung; he’s constantly trying to bring order to those other two unruly females. He gets on Madeline’s case when he thinks she’s acting up (most commonly when she’s overexcited at my return home) & tries to enforce when Chie & Madeline are wrestling. They never listen to him, but he does try to bring them back to sanity. Those two wild things. In the past I got on his case when he showed aggression because no one is allowed to be aggressive at home except me, but I notice now that simply telling him, “It’s ok, Jack” when he begins to get ornery works better. It’s because in actuality he’s just trying to help me out with these pesky dogs, & if I get upset then he feels more pressured to instill order, but if I reassure him then all is well & he doesn’t need to get all alpha.
It took me awhile, some counseling from my dog enthusiast brother, & a bunch of Cesar Millan shows to digest that. If you have any interest in dog psychology I highly recommend the Dog Whisperer shows, which you can watch at the National Geographic website. Most of the time you sit there marveling at what morons the owners of the dogs are, but Cesar is still really good at explaining all kinds of really intriguing aspects of dog behavior.
So Jack & I set out for the Hawaii Kai dog park, which is a short drive away. Unlike some other dog parks I have been to, the Hawaii Kai park is clean & well kept. Fleas are always a possibility at any place people bring animals, but I have not seen a flea in 2 years (knock on wood).
There were only a few other dogs at the park when we got there, & Jack wasn’t sure if he could leave me unprotected at first. He kept scouting ahead & then circling back to me to make sure I wasn’t scared. My bipedal ass was following as briskly as I could without running.
Jack’s first prospect was a neutered little white dog, which turned out to have a penis, much to Jack’s disappointment. The white dog’s owner laughed & said that other dogs always thought he was a girl. Well, he certainly was a pretty little thing. I think she told me he was a Chihuahua/Jack Russell mix. Interesting.
Jack then sniffed noses with a couple of rather big girls, but there was no spark. They just kind of cordially sniffed here & there, & then wandered on to the next dogs. While Madeline passionately hates Retrievers for unknown reasons, I notice Jack isn’t all that crazy about the Labradoodles. Privately every time I hear the word I think I die a little bit. He doesn’t hate though – Jack is open-minded to anything female most of the time. After all, he lives with a pack of them.
Unfortunately there were no dog races today. I could see that Jack was up for a bit of pretend lure coursing or just mindless full speed lap running but he’s not going to start zooming around on his own. He’s a little shy that way. Usually he jumps in on other dogs racing around the park with a bit of “Let me show you how to do this” attitude. He’s a Basenji, after all. But there were no runners on this day. All the dogs present just wanted to lounge around, sniffing each other, maybe sing some karaoke.
In the end Jack ended up hanging out with a couple of guys his own size – our pretty little white friend & an extremely handsome, poised French Bulldog who came over & gave me a kiss as I crouched there with my camera. I’m not a huge fan of Frenchies but he was quite the charmer. And then they made friends with a Great Dane. Now there’s a handsome, well-assured dog.
At the end of the afternoon Jack was bored out of his gourd, having not met up with any runners or any girls his size. When I asked him, “Wanna go home?” he headed for the gate. I think he missed Chie & Madeline.