Follow the Leader

I am often asked when Taylor and I are walking, “who is walking who?” usually accompanied by a smile or a laugh. The question, while for the most part when asked has no ill intentions, annoys me. Though not in the same league as my brother, I like to think of myself as a dog whisperer (which I also parlay into being a baby whisperer and child whisperer). So the question jabs at my insecurities and insensibilities.

Taylor is as strong as an ox. While his size is not imposing (though to some, it is), he is extremely dense as his near 100 lbs is tightly packed into his frame. And while he is a good walker, there are times, especially when we are starting our walk, that he pulls (hard). But by the end, he’s usually walking step by step, panting. This morning, I decided I would walk him with a “gentle leader” collar, which loops around both the upper neck and snout. It’s better than a choke (which you should never use, cos if not used properly, can literally choke your dog), a pinch (which they can become immune to, and has a jerking and momentary snap associated with it), and even a harness with a clip on its back (which does not solve the pulling problem, though a harness with a clip on its side could work).

Taylor hated it. And I mean he hated it. As we were walking by bushes and trees, he’d run his mouth aggressively against them trying to shake the noose off, to no avail contributing to his frustration. However, it accomplished its mission. A gentle leader is truly that – gentle. If he’s walking too far ahead of me or not going the direction I want him to, the gentle leader moves his head one side or another causing him to slow down, turn, or stop. He still hated it though. I had found a solution.

When we arrived at home, I put a treat in his Kong and he played for an hour, eventually tiring himself out, memories of the gentle leader distant.

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