Walking with Ferris

Ferris just turned 20 months old yesterday, and it’s been a while since I’ve checked in to let you all know how The Puppers is doing, so I figured today’s snow day(!) was a perfect time to do that. He might be approaching the end of his puppy days in terms of actual time gone by, but he’s still very much in the puppy mindset. That’s probably best illustrated by his penchant for going on walks.

If you even utter the “W” word around Ferris, he gets extremely excited. Jumping around, tail wagging, running-into-walls excited. In fact, if you put shoes on, or walk past the area where you might think about putting shoes on, his tail already starts to wag. Of course, actually controlling The Puppers when he’s on a walk is a trick and a half.

The first step is to tell him firmly to sit, before you put on his leash. This usually requires a few repetitions, as well as a scowl or two to make sure he knows you’re serious. You then need to remind him that he’s not a sled dog, even if it did snow last night, and even if we’ve been watching a lot of the Olympics lately. Mind you, he won’t listen, but repetition is the mother of all learning, and hope springs eternal.

As soon as you step outside, his first order of business is the Relieving of the Bowels, which he wants to do in Denisa’s flowerbed, right next to the front steps. If you drag him properly, experience has proven that he can, in fact, hold it until you reach the lawn.

Once that’s taken care of, you need to “gently coax” him across the street, since he’s shown a tendency to ignore things like “cars” and “fast moving trucks.” With that out of the way, the walk can really commence. Time has shown that if you constantly remind him “no pulling” and tell him “good dog” approximately every .2 seconds, then he won’t try to wrench your arm out of its socket more than ten times a minute. This is improvement!

Of course, it wouldn’t be much of a walk if you didn’t actually let him walk now and then, so every 100 yards or so, make sure to give him some extra leash so he can run around. This will last about 25 seconds, until he manages to spin around so fast he wraps his legs up as tight as Luke Skywalker flying around an AT-AT. At this point, Ferris will tumble to the ground and look at you, helpless, clearly surprised that this thing he’s done 1,000 times before in the exact same way somehow happened again. If you’re lucky, it hasn’t snowed in a while, and you can make it over to him to untie his legs without getting too much snow down your boots. If you’re not lucky . . .

At this point, you tell him “short leash,” which means his free ranging days are over until you go another 100 yards and decide to give him another shot.

Throughout the walk, there will be small diversions he’ll want to sniff and, ideally, eat. Things like dog poop, dead mice, cans, diapers, cigarette butts, and rocks. Despite your best efforts, he will successfully get about a third of these into his mouth. At this point, you have to decide if it’s worth it to force him to spit them out, or if that ship has already sailed. Usually this depends on just how gross the thing was to begin with.

You repeat this process for a mile or a mile and a half, until the walk is finished, and Ferris returns, reluctantly, to his regular indoor activities of sniffling around searching for dropped food, and licking random things around the house. In about fifteen minutes, he’ll start to ring the bell we’ve put by the door. He’s been told he’s only to do this when he needs to go outside to pee.

One day, maybe he’ll actually do that. Until then, he remains the Puppers.

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