Loose Ends: Learning from Max

Dolly’s chocolate lab Max.

RBC | You know things are going downhill quickly when you find yourself hiding from the dog. Everywhere we go, inside and out, he has to go too. He is suddenly needy. He isn’t used to our being inside the confines of home, all day, everyday-neither are we.

Our chocolate Lab, Max, exhibited the traits of affability and friendliness from the very beginning. Everyone who got to know him would advise us that he would be sure to settle down a bit by age 3. His fourth birthday is fast approaching and he remains a puppy at heart.

If there was a class yearbook from his mates at his early training sessions, he would be mentioned as the friendliest. But he has gone far beyond the limits for sociability. So now Max is spending his days inside doing what he enjoys most. Staying in place right next to us, too close for anyone’s comfort.

Venturing outside with him can be a health hazard. He bolts suddenly. Hoping beyond hope that he will discover a true companion, barely glimpsed from quite a distance, will cause him to yank on the leash or try to twist. During this time of social distancing, he won’t let anyone pass by on his daily walks without pulling one of us over to say hello. That becomes a problem, as he cannot stay six feet away. The even bigger problem is that if he cannot pass up an opportunity to make some new friends, we can’t either. I might fine myself skidding behind him until the six foot circle of doom has been breached. New friends turn out to be new enemies.

During the years of having our dogs stay in place while we were working and the kids were in school, we learned the lessons of letting them roam around in the fenced backyard unattended. They escaped. I think they figured if no one was going to stay home and keep them company, they needed to explore the outside world.

While staying home and practicing the art of social distancing when we do go out, we all are beginning to go stir crazy. Maybe some of us need to learn a lesson from our homebound best friends. Forget that the canine companion is acting a little needy. It could be that the constant ploy for attention can act as a diversion for our own need to get out and be with our family and friends. Working on dog training tricks might teach us how to be more comfortable with our own inability to not go out and socialize.

You know the drill. Just… Stay… Home. It will continue to do us all a world of good.

By DOLLY VISCARDI | Special to the Herald Times

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