Saturday, January 14, 2012

Belay On: Deaf Dog Safety

In rock climbing there's an incredibly important question all climbers ask their partners before they ascend a  wall: "On belay?" The climber is asking her partner, are you clipped in, anchored down, is your harness solid, do you have the rope, am I safe in your hands if I should fall? When her partner is all good to go, the answer is "belay on"--you are safe in my hands, "Climb on."

Trooper's one month anniversary of being found rolled by so quickly I didn't notice 'til three days after. It came; it went. We are here. The honeymoon is over. The lost dog became the found dog, the new dog, our dog, and now just Trooper: little guy. Also, Trooper, stop barking! Stop pulling! Come here! Which is an absurd conversation to have with a deaf dog, but that's another post.

Trooper, thy name is mischief.

So, we are comfortable, settling in, and that's about the time someone (me) might get laxed, not close the door "for just a second while I grab something", or look away at birds, clouds, my thoughts, while Trooper goes left and I find him to my right. It's exactly the time I should be ready, aware, "belay on" when I'm "off belay".

I admit I am the last person prepared for much of anything. Thinking too far ahead just causes me panic. Today, is about all I've got room for, but making sure Trooper, the little deaf dog--who blends in with the leafy scenery--does not vanish because I'm not paying attention, is a today issue, every single day.

Things that help & they might help you too:

1) Trooper wears his collar always with 3 different phone numbers on two tags. (Tomorrow he's getting chipped). Zephyr too.

Zephyr, lounging in the yard, has escaped many times. He's got tags galore.

2) Two dogs, two leashes, coffee, dog bags, purse, hat, gloves--leads to "holy, crap! I dropped a leash!" so Trooper is always clipped in. If I swap leashes on him, it's "clip in, then clip out" in my head--rock climbing rule #2. So, if I drop his leash, and I have, he's clipped into my belt with a carabiner.

Carabiner, the dog walkers best friend.

3) Unless we are in the park, Trooper stays on a short leash. I love the extend-o-leashes, but on a narrow sidewalk they are too difficult to retract in a hurry.

On a short leash.

4) Trooper pretty much always wears his little orange vest. Escape artist is his middle name. He still yearns to hit the road a dozen times a day. If that should happen--god forbid--he's a lot easier to spot looking like a safety cone.

Hello, I'm a crossing guard.

5) Eyes open and alert is the best recipe for any dog walk. From my experience, something will always happen, something you could never see coming--Zephyr running into a coyote warren in the bushes, Zephyr getting body slammed by the owner of a dog who attacked him, Shadow falling out the jeep window as I braked, Zephyr hitting the dash board for the same reason. Car harnesses, harnesses, harnesses. Live and learn.

I am learning to be prepared the very best I can. I adore my dogs. I don't want anything, ever, to happen to them. Life is happening all around us! Belay on!

d, xo

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