16 July 2017

Gus’s First Field Trip: This Boy Loves To Travel. And Will.

Gus's First Field Trip: Photo By Maria Wulf

We decided to take Gus with us to Brandon, Vt. today, where we go several times a year to drop off the shorn and skirted wool for cleaning and weaving into yarn. (Next time, Maria wants to get some of dyed.) I don't like to take Red on long trips when it is hot, I don't think he cares for it.

And we never take Fate on long driving trips, she would drive us crazy, and would herself be restless.

So we decided to bring Gus and expose him to a field trip, his first, although he has been in town a hundred times already.

Gus was game, in fact, he was stellar. We are conscious of not spoiling him or treating him as anything but a dog, so he didn't ride on anybody's lap (he isn't wearing any sweaters or booties this winter either). We put him on the back seat under a blanket and with a couple of rawhide chews.

The drive to the knitting mill took about two hours. Gus looked at us for a few minutes – I think he wanted to come in the front seat. We ignored him, of course, and he chewed on the rawhide, and went to sleep. He stayed asleep until we arrived and then we let him out of the car on a leash, to be safe.

He saw Deb, the owner of the mill and rushed over to say hello to her, and walked – I let the leash drag onto the ground – into the mill office and sat down on the floor while Maria and Deb went over the wool. I took the leash off and Gus and I went outside, and took a walk on the vast green lawn outside the office.

Gus eliminated both ways right away – he seems quite housebroken now – and then we turned and walked back to the office, passing some curious alpacas along the way. Gus glanced at them and walked away. We went back to the office, Gus was happy to see Maria and then sat down and munched on some loose wool.

Back in the car, he looked out the window for a bit, tried again to get to the front seat, failed again, and then chewed for a minute or two, curled up in a corner and went to sleep. We stopped in town and interrupted his nap by picking up some sandwiches and going to sit under a cupola by the beautiful river that runs through the town.

Gus sat on the ground under our picnic table and sat quietly, I didn't see him or hear from while we ate and talked. He was on a leash wrapped around my foot. I never felt a pull. We are scrupulous about not giving him human food ever, and so he doesn't pay much attention to what we are eating or pester us. I dislike that habit in dogs, and just don't tolerate it.

The way to avoid it is to never give them any food outside of their bowls, and no food ever from the dinner table.

As we left, I picked him up off of the ground to let him see where we were, and Maria asked if she could go to the car and get her Iphone for a photo. I said sure, I'm accepting being photographed, Lord knows I do it enough to other people. And a picture with Gus in it is usually a success.

He is very much Maria's dog, and that is neat, but we are great buds, and I love our relationship.

It is one of the easiest I've ever had, second only to Red, who will always be known in my mind as The Dog.

If they never do it, they never think to do it. I don't know what he was going down there, but it had nothing to do with us.

It works.

On the ride home, we went back to sleep and lulled by the movement of the car, he didn't wake up until we got home. It was a great field trip for him. He was right at home at the knitting mill, greeting everyone, strutting around like a King, like he owned the place.

Gus has the makings of a great ride-a-long dog, his first field trip was, in our minds, a great success. This is socialization period, and I don't think any of us could handle Gus seeing any more people than he has. I like him more and more as a therapy dog. He loves people, likes to be handled, he can be trusted. We'll see.

I can see how easy it is to spoil these small dogs, they are endearing and it is tempting to pick them up all the time rather than train them. We are conscious of that, and resisting it. So far, so good.

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