I took the puppy for a walk this evening. To be frank, it was a relief to get out of the house and away from the ladies and gents. My patience was tried to the limit today as we try to slip back into our regular school routine. Kindergarten gent was even and on-task; the rest of the gang, not so much. There was a lot of fighting and arguing today. There were tears. There was yelling, and not all of it came from the kids. So the quiet neighborhood and a good walk in the cool air was soothing to my jangled nerves.
Poppy's such a sweet girl. She's eager to please, sociable, smart, and adorable in that roly-poly, pell-mell, tumble-bumble way of puppies. (I'll give you a dollar if you can tell me what book "roly-poly, pell-mell, tumble-bumble" is from. All right, I won't really give you a dollar, but leave a comment if you know and I'll think you're cool, which is better than a dollar anyway.) Poppy will do just about anything for a treat and a pat. She usually walks well on the leash for such a little one, just trotting along in her own happy little puppy world, but tonight she was pulling and pulling on the leash, lunging against the end until the collar choked her, making her gag. It was so bad that I turned back home, and the walk home took twice as long as the first half because I kept stopping to soothe her. I let her loose in the back yard so that she could run around limited by the fence rather than the leash, and we had a good romp instead .
A bit later in the kitchen, as a content Poppy settled on a blanket in the living room, I remarked to loving husband, "It hit me as I headed home with Poppy pulling and lunging and choking herself that I felt like the entire day with the kids has been like this-- kids pulling and testing the boundaries even though they're gagging and choking themselves. It was like walking five little puppies all barking and lunging. That's exactly what it felt like. I'm exhausted." The kids don't know that the boundaries I set for them are intended to keep them safe, to keep them strong and healthy, to teach them good manners any more than puppy knows that the leash is for safety, health, and instruction. And the consequences of pulling and pulling didn't seem to be sinking in, at least in the immediate moment.
With Poppy it's an easy dilemma to solve. Tomorrow I'll use the little body harness to walk her so that she doesn't choke.
With the ladies and gents...who knows? Of course they're not puppies, and shouldn't be treated like them. But there are lessons to be learned in everything. Sometimes reframing a problem helps us to look at it in a new light, which allows us to find better solutions. I know that one lovely lady might benefit from a day that's a bit more like a romp in the yard than a guided walk. As a matter of fact, her day brightened and evened out this afternoon when I tossed some fruit on the table and asked her to draw a still life as a preparation for our next art study. The youngest two gents would certainly benefit from some time and attention just for them, a game or a puzzle instead of a belly rub. Or maybe chase-and-tickle, a game that puppies enjoy too. Kindergarten gent was praised and rewarded with quarters for the ice cream jar for his wonderful behavior. And the other lovely lady...well, time and patience are the key. Gentleness and trying to find ways to provide instruction that don't make her want to pull so hard in the other direction has been slowly turning the tide.
So maybe they're a little like puppies.
Heeeeyyy...a treat from time to time can help reinforce desired behaviors. I didn't run away screaming, lock anyone in a closet, or threaten to get out the duct tape. Refraining from those kinds of behaviors is desirable, right?
I think I deserve a piece of cheescake.