Gunner and the Mud Puddle

Firstly, as many of you know, my mother recently passed. Last weekend my family got together to go through her personal belongings. It was my intention to write this post last week, but between the emotional burden and amount of time spent organizing people and things, I was not able to. Secondly, I hope to continue with the third installment of "My day -- the run down" next week.

On a lighter note, the story of Gunner and the mud puddle.

Gunner is a drop in client that I see a few times a month. He has amazing owners that are truly dedicated to his well being and development. He is a shepherd cross with a fear/protection instinct towards strangers but a genuine love for his fellow four legged beings.

On this fine Monday afternoon, we parked in the south Weasel Head parking lot to do our on-leash walk over to the off leash area in Oakridge. It was a hot day, so we stuck to the trees in the park and did a bunch of off-leash heeling all the way down to the end. On the way back, we moved to the more open area to give the dogs the much deserved reward of running free, sniffing and exploring.

I took a pause (for the cause) and broke out the water. While I was busy assuring that all the dogs got an uninterrupted drink from the bowl (we had Opi with us, and he's a water hog!), Mr. Gunner wandered off a little ways to sniff and explore. Totally fine, this is the time to give the dogs the freedom to do their sniffing and playing.

When I visually checked in with him, my heart sank. He had found the one and only puddle in the whole park, and it was a mud puddle. Before I could do anything he was happily rolling, flopping and digging in the fresh mud.

I quickly went over and put him back on leash to asses the situation. He was covered in mud from head to toe on one side of his body. Great. Well, nothing to do but to keep going. I am thankful for all my efforts in mindfulness and awareness in moments like these. Something like this could have ruined my day (thinking about the car clean, never mind the dog clean!), but I was able to take it in stride and start brainstorming options.

I texted Gunner's mom right away and asked what she would like me to do. In the mean time I googled self dog washes, the closest car wash with a dog bay was a ways away and not on my route. I texted Chris (Freya's dad) and asked if he knew of any closer. Chris was kind enough to even offer helping me at the Pet Value self dog wash (Insert my upmost gratitude and respect!).

Gunner's mom got back to me and said that she had a hose ready in her back yard for this exact occasion (perfect!), but there was one word of caution. Gunner didn't like having baths. He had recently been sent home from the groomers (without being groomed), and he didn't like the hose any better. That's ok, I'm a dog whisperer, right? What can't I handle, right?

We finished the walk without any more mud puddles, and worked on drop offs. The other dogs had gotten some mud on them from being close to Gunner, but thankfully most of it had dried and I could wipe it off with a towel. Gunner was my last drop off of the day. We went in the back yard, spotted the hose and got set up. I had been warned that he would run all over the yard, so I used my leash to tether him around the gate so he couldn't run. I turned on the hose and said quietly to myself, "Alright, lets do this".

As soon as the water touched his mud kissed fur, Gunner started screaming. I mean screaming. My only thought was, let's get this done as fast as we can. About 30 seconds in, the next door neighbour came out and peeked over the fence to see what was wrong. I had to explain myself and reassure her that I wasn't trying to hurt him, just trying to clean him off. Soon after the back side neighbour came out and I had to reassure them as well. Nothing like explaining yourself to the neighbours of your drop-in client that no, you aren't seriously injuring the dog that's screaming it's head off (Gunner hadn't stopped by the way).

Finally we got him hosed off and I quickly let him off the leash. He stopped screaming as he ran away and gave the biggest stress releasing shake I've ever seen. I thought for sure that this was it. I had betrayed the trust of a surprisingly sensitive dog and our relationship would never be the same. But, much to my surprise, he picked up his deflated soccer ball and looked at me, longing in his eyes.... "What!? I just put you through that torture and now you want to PLAY?". And that's exactly what we did: played with the ball in the yard in the sun while he dried off.

The lessons we can take from our dogs are countless and endless. The lesson I took from that day was this: everything is in the moment. The past is gone, the future doesn't exist except in your mind, all that exists is the present moment. One moment Gunner is a stress case getting hosed down, but as soon as that moment was gone, he was on to the next (soccer ball games in the yard). Thanks Gunner.

Until next time, happy trails.

Holly, Duke and Jax