Sunday, 23 September 2007

The good, the bad & the Bingley

Some of you might be a bit concerned that we're being too timid with Bingley's big wide world adventures, and that we're not taking him out to see lots of new places. But at the moment we don't have the use of a car so we're dependent on the Metro to get us out and about. Going further afield with Bingley is definitely on our agenda, in fact we can hardly wait: but first of all we were keen that he should be walking to heel and not leaping up to greet every person he meets.

Getting him to walk to heel has been coming along splendidly since my breakthrough earlier in the week: I begin each walk as I mean to go on, and he knows who's in charge right from the start. The enthusiastic jumping up is a different matter. Outside I'm making him sit when people approach and most passers by take one look at this rambunctious puppy and quickly realise that it'd be best to keep on walking. Visitors don't escape so lightly though, and when our good friend Eimer called to meet Bingley yesterday we had difficulty convincing him that she really wasn't a rugby scrum-machine!

More socialisation is required (I'm looking into local puppy training classes) and this morning we got up early, thinking that it'd be a good opportunity to introduce Bing to the Metro and maybe even take him along to the river-side walk at Pelaw. How naive are we?!

He heeled politely and enthusiastically all the way to the bottom of the Metro station steps. He can't 'do' steps yet, so we were fully prepared to have to carry him up. What we didn't expect is that he wouldn't go anywhere near them in the first place. His ears went flat, his paws dug in and no amount of gentle pulling would persuade him to get close.

Well, we were going to carry him up anyway so we might as well do it from here, we thought. Once up the stairs we had to cross a footbridge to reach the ramp onto the platform: he padded along the bridge okay, but then wouldn't go down the covered ramp until Jane went first. All of this took time: we didn't rush him or force him and we did consider calling it a day long before we got onto the platform. We should have paid more attention to out feelings!

By the time we got down there we'd already realised that there was no way that Bingley would want to actually get onto a Metro, so once we felt sure that he was comfortable staying there on the platform we stopped to watch a few trains come & go. He didn't seem to be at all phased by that and the only problem we had was convincing him that all the people getting off the Metro really weren't on a Bingley pilgrimage.

Then it was time to go back. Or not! He'd walked down the ramp okay, but would he go back up? No way! We spent about fifteen minutes entertaining the few people on the platform with the various ways we'd discovered to tempt a puppy into doing something he didn't want to do. Nothing would work. There was no way we were going to make him go back up that ramp without carrying him. Which, despite his little whimpers, is what we had to do in the end! We felt wretched, mean and heartless. It’s easy to forget that this energetic little dog is still a puppy, and though he’s certainly gutsy he can still be surprisingly timid at times. The Metro service is part of our lives and he’s going to have to get used to it if he wants to join us on longer walks; but I’ll introduce him to it at a slower pace over the next few weeks.

Once off the platform and back onto familiar territory his tail started wagging again and things quickly returned to normal. In fact the rest of the walk was great fun: we spent a while playing around on Bingley's field, then we took him onto a quiet hilly annexe where he had his first off-lead romp. At last! This is something we've wanted to do for a while, but usually there are too many distractions that would likely have him charging across the field into goodness knows what kind of misadventures. But this morning the area was very quiet, Bingley was pretty tired and we thought it would be a good opportunity to let him off the lead. He loved it! And so did we. He bunched himself up and raced around the whole area, but as we'd expected he didn't wander far and kept stopping to make sure that we were still there. What’s more, whenever we called him he came bounding over! It gave us all such a great sense of freedom, and it was a marvellous uplift after the awful experience earlier.

The Metro can wait a while longer, but off lead romps on this little hill will definitely continue tomorrow.

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