Just when you thought a computer room was the final frontier, I found a way to confuse a dog with one.
The key to getting a fearful dog to stop being fearful is to expand what they see. Bump up against that safe-zone wall and you will find it’s made out of rubber bands and not stones and mortar. The walls are amazingly stretchy and will eventually fade away.
At least that’s the plan.
When I got Lettie way back when, she was fearful. She was terrified of buses, and I am going through that with Rack as well. Dutifully, I’d take her to Germantown Avenue in Chestnut Hill, Philadelphia. We would park ourselves in front of the clothing store or the bench in front of Kilian’s Hardware and watch the bustle of traffic, people shopping, and basically experience the city. It got me out of the house, and exposed her to the racket of the Big City. Slowly we realized this was unneeded as Lettie wouldn’t freak out when the 23 bus would go past on its way to Center City, or the turnaround loop at the Top Of The Hill.
I’m doing the same with Rack. We park ourselves in front of Wilton Manors City Hall and chat for a while. Waiting for the Dreaded 50 Bus, Rack’s Pack will cool our heels while watching him alternately be engaged or panic depending on what is going by. He’s getting better, and that rubber band is stretching further each time.
When I got the chance to try something new, we jumped at it.
You see, Kevin needed to check the Computer Room. There was an issue with the HVAC system at work, and it meant a drive to the office to make sure all was well.
Rack being Rack, all I had to do was say Ride In The Car and he perked. We got him in his harness and soon we were riding down A1A past the bars and the tacky T Shirt shops at Fort Lauderdale’s Beach. My dog assumed his normal outlook on life, staring out the windows like a stoner. Ooh Cool, Dude, Look at that Jogger! Wow, man, there’s a big boat out on the ocean!
Yes, that is one of the things that turns my dog into Jeff Spicoli from Fast Times At Ridgemont High.
When we finally got to the office, Rack decided that he didn’t want to get out of the big beast of an SUV and tried to make himself as flat as possible. I had to lift him out of the seat and plop him onto the ground. The scents of the nearby Fort Lauderdale Sewer Plant coupled with the distant Port of Fort Lauderdale most likely threw him.
Panic aside, we walked to the building.
Herding Dogs are an amazingly adaptable beast. They will handle challenges admirably, but you have to introduce them properly. The challenge of the day was going into a high rise office building. He had no problem with the doors, we’ve done that before. Once in the lobby, he walked around the perimeter doing his Perimeter Search thing that I’ve seen many times, snuffling the corners until the doors opened on the elevator.
He sat down, cocked his head at a 45 degree angle and looked confused as we both walked inside the little stainless steel box.
When he saw us both go in, he followed and made himself as small as he could in the back corner. I swear his eyes doubled in size when the door closed and the mechanisms came to life with relays snapping and hydraulic lift oil whooshing through the pipes.
We went up to the fourth floor and he just could not wait to get out of that box of doom.
Kevin in the lead, I followed with Rack unsure. I don’t think it was possible for a dog to get any closer to someone while they walked.
When we got to the office, the black and white dog flattened against the floor as the door opened. Regaining composure, I lead him inside so he could snuffle around the small office. The computer room with its constant fan white noise was a bit much for him, he didn’t go in. Standing at the door, that was quite close enough.
Finishing our inspection, we wandered out of the office and down the hall. He liked this suite better since it smelled richly of Office Snacks left out for passers by. I kept his snout away from those chocolates, those were for people, and they were quite good.
After he wandered around a bit, it was time to go.
We stepped out of the suite and Rack knew one thing – Get Me Out Of Here.
He was at the end of my 6 foot purple leash the entire time. Dragging me down the hall with Kevin behind, we made it to the fourth floor lobby. Elevator beeped and snapped to life, Rack flattened like a pancake against the green granite floor. When it arrived, doors opened, and he knew what to do. Rack was actually inside the elevator before we were.
He was clearly stressed but he did know that this meant escape from the empty office complexes with the strange smells and sounds.
Getting to the ground floor garage, he lead the way to the SUV and practically flew into the back seat.
As we went past the beach bars with their Smooth Jazz saxophonist and the joggers that are all a part of the Beach Scene in Fort Lauderdale, Rack calmed down. Eventually he even learned to enjoy the trip, regaining his trippy outlook on life.
Whoa Dude, that was cool!