Friday, October 26, 2007

Tricky Jasper

Jasper had a bit of a rough time when we were sounds like he returned to his super-shy cowering days. Our friend Anna got him through it valiantly, and then our other sitter Kim was able to coax him out of his shell by bringing her own dog along. But I still felt very bad, so have been trying to spend lots of time with him since we returned. This is much easier since I'm on my research block, and lots of my work can be done from home.

Jasper, as some of you know, doesn't like our back stairs very much. This is his normal route to the backyard, and we're hoping he'll snap out of it eventually, but his approach is very inconsistent day to day. Some days, he'll follow us right out the door (especially if one of us is leading and the other trailing along behind). Some days, he'll stand at the top of the steps for minutes, staring back at us as if he has no idea what we want him to do!

Yesterday, I was heading out to rake leaves. After getting everything ready in the yard, I came back in to grab Jasper. Thinking it might be easier, I took him out the front door, which he has no qualms about. Then he trotted down the driveway before reaching the tricky part where he had to follow me around the car and through the gate into the backyard, with the scary trashcan looming nearby (yes, I often think that Jasper is secretly a horse, he has many of the same triggers. Luckily I'm used to looking at the world that way!).

I waited patiently as Jasper stopped-and-started his way though this zone, rewarding him with a pat and some soothing words as he finally scooted through onto the back patio. This whole process had taken 5 or 10 minutes. Then I unclipped his leash, turned to close the gate...and turned back around just in time to see his fuzzy tail disappearing through the back door! I had left it open, and Jasper had taken immediate advantage to return to safety. By the time I followed him back inside, he was once more ensconced underneath the coffee table.

Another 10 minutes passed as I coaxed him back onto his feet, then over to the back door, then waited out the kitchen steps fears before he was finally in the backyard again. This time I shut the door before letting him off the leash.

Jasper did have a fabulous time once he was outside, though...we opened the back gate to connect our yard with our neighbors'. They have two very hyper border collies, and the three dogs romped and romped all afternoon! Jasper might even learn how to fetch this way, as one of the collies is a fetching machine, and Jasper was very interested in following her back and forth. He was so tuckered out last night, especially since we'd also gone for a run in the morning!

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