Saturday, June 9, 2018 1:26 pm
For the first time this year, Dennis and I took Sammy to the farmer’s market in Waukesha this morning.
One of the reasons I wanted to get a dog, almost 2 years ago now, was so that I could have an animal I could hang out with outside of the house. Someone who could ride with me in the car to get a hamburger or ice cream. Go to a farmer’s markets and outdoor flea markets on occasion.
I love my cats dearly, but they’re not all that enthused about jumping in the van and going for a ride. And I’ve tried walking them on leashes. They were very adept at crouching on the ground with their claws embedded into the earth, but as far actually moving with the leash on, not so much.
I was surprised, and dismayed when we took Sammy to his first farmer’s market a year ago. He hated it. He cowered at all the people. He barked at all the dogs and wouldn’t let anyone, human or animal, get near him. When we tried to take him through a drive through for a hamburger, he barked and growled at anyone who happened to pass within six feet of our car.
Not what I expected.
Dennis enrolled Sammy into a socialization class at our local HAWS last summer. Sammy learned how to let other dogs approach him and Dennis learned how to help him feel safe when other dogs and people were around. Today Dennis put all that training to the test and then some.
Being the first time he’s been in public since last fall, Sammy was a little more on edge at the farmer’s market than normal. He has to get used to it again, but he was still doing well. Sammy prefers to walk with Dennis when we’re there. I think it’s because he did the HAWS training with him. Or maybe it’s because Dennis prefers to walk with Sammy when we’re there.
You see, Sammy is a magnet for attention. As we walk him down the aisle people literally stop and comment to each other and us about what an adorable dog he is. Several people called him the “laughing dog today”. I swear Dennis walks a little taller with an uncharacteristic perky spring in his step when he’s walking Sammy at the farmer’s market. (I’m the one bringing up the rear of the group juggling all the bags.)
Today, though, Dennis took Sammy’s socialization exercises one step further than ever before. Probably further than anyone at HAWS ever expected one of their doggie-graduates to have to endure.
A family came up to ask and asked if Sammy was a Pekingese. I said he was not, he was part Pomeranian, part Shih-Tzu. The husband replied that they had a Pomeranian at home that they loved.
To my shock (and embarrassment), Dennis scooped up Sammy, flipped him on his back and showed this family how when you turn Sammy upside down his ears flip-up and he looks just like a Pom. The dog who, last year at this time, was so freaked out he couldn’t go in public was now being tipped on his back so strangers could admire his ears.
The family was a bit taken back and didn’t know what to say, although, they did comment that Sammy didn’t look all that thrilled about the whole thing. I wonder if HAWS has a class to socialize humans on the things not to make your dog endure while in public?
Sammy handled the situation like a champ. I was proud of him. We tried to reward him for literally having exposed his vulnerable underbelly to strangers with hot, homemade donuts but he wasn’t interested. Dennis, however, was.
I’ve heard some people go to the farmer’s market to get fresh vegetables. We go for fresh made donuts.
Sometimes I do buy vegetables, too. But it’s usually to make things like Beef Stroganoff and strawberry rhubarb crumble. I resisted buying the fresh dill for Swedish meatballs. And in a small nod to health, I bought a head of lettuce.
Since the donut treat was a bust, I wanted to make sure Sammy had something he really enjoyed to attach to our outing. I suspect he still only tolerates going to the farmer’s market, even when he isn’t flipped on his back, so we needed another place to stop.
The answer was easy: Five Guys Burgers. Sammy’s favorite place to go. He even knows the name. Say Five Guys at home and he gets all excited and runs to the door.
Come to think of it, so does Dennis.