At about 6:00 a.m. yesterday morning Katie, Louis and I were in the middle of our usual walk when Katie suddenly bolted. She was still attached to me by a leash and a pinch collar. I don't even think she felt the pinch collar through all of the hair on her neck and through her apparent terror over some unknown threat, but without it I probably would have been dragged on my face down the sidewalk with Louis in tow. I had just switched back to her pinch collar a few days ago when I noticed that there had recently been an explosion in the rabbit population. I feared for the safety of myself, Katie and Louis as she likes to go after the little critters and wouldn't hesitate to pull us in front of a car to do so. My point is that normally her pinch collar works, but yesterday it was just one step above worthless. After galloping for half a block she calmed down and resumed walking. I always like to make the dogs face these types of fears, so that we can live life without having to be worried about specific objects. I turned all three of us around and headed back towards the scary object. After looking around in my neighbors' yards trying to determine what could have scared Katie so badly, I spotted the John Deere tractor sprinkler shown in the above picture. It was the only thing that didn't seem familiar. I grabbed a couple of dog biscuits out of my bag and headed towards the sprinkler determined to do a "check it"to help Miss Katie conquer her fear. I got about 10 feet away from it where it was barely sprinkling on us and was about to start the exercise when Katie suddenly whipped around and started heading away from it. The grass was wet so I slipped and twisted my knee as I fell down . The pain was excruciating. I couldn't move or even open my eyes. All I could do was sit on the wet ground biting my lower lip and gripping one leash in each hand as the sprinkler soaked all of us. Finally, the initial pain subsided and I stood up. I was surprised to find that I could still walk on my wounded knee. It didn't even hurt that badly although I could feel it swelling. I limped home with my legs stinging from being covered in grass clippings. I'm highly allergic to grass so it felt like bugs were biting me all the way home. After I took a bath and put some ice on my knee I felt much better. My knee is still sore, but I think the ice really helped to reduce the impact of the injury.
Yesterday evening was a bit cooler than usual so I left Louis at home with Gary and took Katie to face the sprinkler again. This time we approached very slowly and spent about 10 minutes getting comfortable with it. It was so strange to see my 108 pound dog on her tiptoes cautiously leaning forward to sniff the sprinkler. This morning when we walked by the same house she was in high alert mode, but she didn't bolt. I made her and Louis do some sit stays 20 feet away from the sprinkler and after a few minutes she relaxed.
I don't know why Katie picks strange objects to be afraid of, but I am hoping that with more and more exposure she will eventually get past this. This scary sprinkler was unusual because normally Katie can get over most fears within 10 seconds after we begin a check it exercise. Also, she has seen lots other sprinklers that she wasn't at all afraid of and she often enjoys playing in them. Why she was afraid of this one probably will remain a mystery to me.
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"Welcome home to the Happy Haus" is the greeting I used to receive from Gary when we arrived home from work each day. Gary and I brought our daughter Natalie home from China in November 2011 to live with us in our cozy cottage. In October of 2013, we unexpectedly lost Gary, our dear husband, father and friend.
Our family includes our two sweet Newfoundland dogs, Katie and Louie. Newfoundlands are working dogs, so we make sure our two always have a job to do. Katie and Louie are both certified therapy dogs and bring lots of joy to people who are in need of some Newfie love. They have also competed in Rally Obedience. Katie has earned a Rally Advanced title and Louie has earned a Rally Excellent title. In keeping with Newf tradition, Katie has become a proficient draft dog while Louie prefers practicing water rescue whenever he gets an opportunity. They are also both protectors of their little sister, Natalie.