Bracing For The Day
I got up early to take Toby out through the back door of the garage. Early, meaning while it was still dark outside and before the neighbor's dog was let out. My goal was to walk Toby around until he did his business, in peace and quiet, without waking my parents and the neighbors. So much for that plan.
I turned on the outside light. (I should have looked out the window first. Lesson learned.) As soon as I opened the back door, Toby lunged while snarling and growling. He dragged me a little way out with him. I rooted myself and held on to the leash with all my strength. I saw two, young raccoons on the back hill. They quickly ran to and climbed up a tree. By this point, Toby was barking a blue streak.
I was able to pull him back enough so that I was just inside the garage. With my left foot on the ground, I raised my right foot and braced it against the inside of the door frame. This gave me some extra strength since my legs are stronger than my arms.
At first, I just held him in place, hoping that his collar and the leash wouldn't break. I kept telling him to stop and come inside, but he was too focused on the raccoons to listen to anything I said.
I was using brute force to hold him in place, and I was at a disadvantage. The element of surprise, combined with his momentum, worked against me. I wouldn't be able to hold him for long, and he wasn't about to stop with the raccoons in his sight.
Then my martial arts brain kicked in. I needed to use strategy to solve this problem, not physical strength. Proper technique is more effective than physical strength. So, I ignored Toby's barking and watched his body language. I waited until I saw a pattern in his movements. He would lunge and bark, but when he needed to take a breath, he eased off a bit and stopped pulling. I waited for his next breath and that was when I pulled the leash toward me and told him to come to me. It worked. I finally got him inside the garage and closed the door.
So, now I needed a new plan because he still hadn't done his business. I took him into the porch and out the door to the front. I walked Toby around for a while because he was nervous and on edge with the surge of adrenaline he'd experienced. Eventually, he calmed down and did his business. We went back inside. And yes, his barking woke everyone in the house. I'm sure it woke the neighbors, too. Even the best-made plans can go awry.
And the two raccoons stayed up in the tree all that day and into the evening. They made it down and got away by the next morning. Now I added a visual check of the surroundings to our morning routine, before taking Toby outside.
© Debra J. Bilton. All rights reserved.
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Debra J. Bilton: Author, blogger, lover of animals & nature, martial artist & sensei (teacher), Buddhist.