Friday, May 30, 2008

Oh, Gentle Leader

This is a magic halter: it instantly turns the rowdiest, obnoxious, teenaged-dog into the calm, sweet guy he was when we first met him. No exaggeration here. Within about three minutes of getting it onto him (the hardest part was getting the loop over that long, skinny nose after I put the collar-part around the back of his neck - you just can't bend and smoosh a nose like that through a little loop of nylon, no matter how much you want it to work), I had him sitting on command. It's called the Gentle Leader. Isn't that great? Could be the name of a dictator, or a dog-training device.

Note tail still wagging, despite the halter on his nose:

Well, there was also the inducement of treats. Some well-timed pieces of kibble, a few gentle adjustments, and he was walking like a dream beside my left leg, looking up at me as though he was posing for the Canine Good Citizen poster. And as you can see, the dog can still smile with this gizmo on. He can play ball and drink water out of the toilet and snarf down his dinner and bark, too. Maybe the next version will stop the toilet-bowl drinking? I don't know; my female dog never did that.
Here's the side view. There's a part that you can't see in the photograph that loops from under his chin to clip behind his ears, high on the back of his neck; the piece around his nose; and a small loop below his chin to attach the leash. The idea is that by controlling the nose, I mean head, you control the whole beastie, as my daughter might say. Works, too.

The real test is this evening's first obedience class with dogs in tow. There's a terrier named Patches who looks like he's planning the next big heist of Pedigree, a Lhasa Apso named Reese whom we have not met, and then Parker. I have a feeling that there will be less gentle leading and more vigorous "leave it's" and "no's." But I am saving desert for after class. I don't know about Parker, but I'll be ready for something chocolate.

And in case all you warm-climate folks were in doubt, there are things growing in Chicago. Today I planted cosmos seeds, radishes, and zinnias and then it rained. That's the way the universe is supposed to work.

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