Sunday, October 4, 2009

Higgins Goes on a Field Trip

Higgins is an energetic adolescent that has grown up quite a bit during his 4 month stint at the shelter. He has gone from a rowdy, nearly uncontrollable nightmare to a dog that I look forward to walking every day.

Our first meeting was difficult, I think, for both us. He had not been out in 4 days (because he had built up such a bad reputation!) so he was just so excited that he could not contain himself! It took over 5 minutes to settle him enough to collar him. He tugged on the leash with his teeth, he jumped around like he was on a pogo stick, and he got a work out before we’d even gone outside for our walk. Once we made it outside, however, Higgins truly relaxed. He walked like a gentleman, never pulling on the leash, looking back at me to check in. He was so well-behaved in fact that he received many compliments from fellow dog walkers. Because our walk had gone so well, I wanted to take him out again a few days later.

Our next few walks together were very similar to our first, some jumpiness – some tug-of-war, but with every walk he improved. Now when I go to take him for a walk Higgins sits and lays down for me as I enter the kennel. He sits patiently while I collar and leash him (never jumping or pulling on the leash) and walks down the ‘gauntlet’ of barking dogs completely unfazed, his head held high with confidence and his tail wagging with joy. Over 2 months of working with Higgins, I feel that he is a completely different dog. All that Higgins needed was consistency, patience, some training, and lots of love to become such a wonderful walking companion, whom I look forward to seeing every day I’m at the shelter.

It’s no secret that Higgins has wriggled his way into my heart! If you read his walk cards, you’ll see nothing but praise from me from the last 2 months. Higgins has made such remarkable improvement, that I wanted to reward him to a day away from the shelter. After his BadRap class (his 3rd class and he’s a natural!), we began our little adventure to Point Isabel.

Higgins rides like a pro in the car – he laid down the entire time, happily chewing on a rawhide that I purchased just for him. I think he enjoyed the ride so much that when we first arrived at Pt. Isabel, he didn’t get out of the car. He jumped down onto the pavement than happily jumped back in, as if he was saying, “Okay. More ride, please.” With the promise of a treat, Higgins followed my partner, Derek, and I into the park.
At the first sign of other dogs, Higgins pace quickened; a spring appeared in his step and his body squirmed with his excitement. All this boy wants to do is play! Pure puppy energy radiated from him and many of the other dog owners took notice. Higgins loved prancing in the grass and saying hello to all of the free roaming dogs. At one point we attempted to play in the water, but Higgins is more of a land lover, I think. One thing is for sure, Higgins has never been around so many dogs at once and he looked like he was having the time of his life!

After walking for 90 minutes, cuddling in the shade, eating treats, and sniffing butts to his heart’s content – it was time to go “home” to the shelter.

The ride back was difficult for me, not for Higgins – who looked completely at ease lying out on puffy blankets in the back seat. The whole time I kept thinking how nice it would be if every time Higgins got out of a car, it wasn’t to be returned to the shelter, but to be returning after a fun day at the dog park to a real forever-home. When we pulled into the parking lot, Higgins looked around at the surroundings and I thought, “Does he know where we are?” Apparently he did, because when he jumped down from the car he immediately recognized the Dalmatian-spotted fire hydrant in front of the shelter and jumped right back inside the car to lie down with his rawhide.

With a little coaxing and a few soft pats on his back, Higgins reluctantly followed us back to his kennel – #22. I went to the kitchen and made him a yummy stuffed KONG and ran to the laundry room to pick up his favorite rope toy before I said goodbye. He looked as happy and content as ever – his goofy tongue hanging out, his floppy ears, and his adorable patches. He licked my fingers through the kennel door as I said goodbye to him. I melted at the sight of him and gave him one last doggy treat for being such a good boy.
If I’m so attached to this lovable pooch after only 2 months – imagine how attached you’ll be after spending a life time with him as your loyal, loving, and lively companion? Although I will miss Higgins when he leaves for his new forever-home (Yes! He will be adopted someday!), I will be happier knowing that he is running off-leash at Pt. Isabel for a change.
Posted by Sam S.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I have visited this boy every day for the last three days. He sure has a way about him. He's my kind of guy.
If my landlord says yes, he would be a lovely second pit in my home.
I love a springy dog!