Dog trains man

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Little Miss Rocket and Her Co-pilot

I never told you Tilde earned herself a new nickname during last Summer. It was during a get-together with Hovawart friends in Northern-Germany. We met with the Hovawarts Emil, Cooper, and Doeschka, and their respective families.

The first introductions went good - of course Tilde knew Emil from before - and when the dogs started to play a little in the large garden of the house we rented, I went for a stroll along the perimeter with Kenzo - it was during the days he wasn't allowed to run - and I think we only made five steps when Tilde already joined us. She rather stayed with us.

Probably she learned it from Kenzo to be more polite, or maybe she just knew it was what Kenzo expected from her. Tilde has gotten a little more cautious with dogs she meets for the first time. Before she plays, she wants to get the formalities over with first and foremost. When everybody has shown their most polite side, the door is open for some serious Hovawart roughhousing.

It was when Tilde surprised me the most in the next couple of days as a bottomless vessel of energy. She would tire out one play-mate, just to continue with the next. And the next. It was funny to watch her play with those strong and sturdy Hovawart males taking turns for playtime, she looked so tiny beside them. What she lacked in size, she made up for in temperament and energy. "Little Miss Rocket", one friend said, and we all laughed and agreed it was an appropriate nickname for Tilde.

Fast-forward to today. We spend the days up to New Year's Eve on the West-Coast. I never expected it to be that busy. On a day with good weather, the beach was crowded with people and dogs, a busy dog park would have looked deserted in comparison. I realized it would be a test for Tilde and me. How would we do without Kenzo. Just his presence already had an effect on other dogs, and when Tilde got in trouble with a bully nonetheless, she always came running back to Kenzo and he solved it on the spot. I realized I had gotten lazy, knowing I could always rely on Kenzo's judgement, and his interventions. While we walked down to the beach, Tilde's new nickname crossed my mind again, "Little Miss Rocket...," I thought, "...and with a new co-pilot...oh my."

Tilde did good. I think we met a new dog every 100 meters. She greeted them all politely, from the smallest Chihuahua to the largest Great-Dane, both boys or girls. She played chase with some, and most of all, she was having a great time. She looked like a poster dog of a happy and friendly dog, as was also noticed by some people who would comment how nice she was, just before Tilde jumped up on them with her entire body wiggling for a kiss.

It went wrong with a Golden who quickly went pushy and threw Tilde on her back. She snared. He understood his mistake but came for her again, unable to control his exuberant self. That's where she disengaged and came back to me, "Please, can you do Kenzo's job?", and I stepped in to keep the Golden away. I felt proud she asked me. Proud she trusted me. It was a confidence boost. We were still a team, Tilde and me, even without Kenzo.

During the next days we would meet some of the dogs again, and Little Miss Rocket decided exclusively for a few lucky chosen ones, to unveil her other, rougher, side. Let's just say, her new co-pilot trusted her judgement.

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