Outdoors is a bit different. Outdoors he's all terrier with a huge prey drive. What started off as amusing as I saw him charging through hedges after squirrels, is less of a laughing matter when he's doing the same thing in pursuit of cows on the other side of a river. Or another dog who is just standing and waiting to say a friendly hello (no physical aggression from Dooley but a lot of barking and teeth-flashing, and with a different dog/person there could've been trouble).
I spent time awake during the night worrying that a dog with such a high prey drive couldn't live where we live. It's private land - managed by our Landlord - and open to the public, with lots of local families, children, dogs and horses about. It's farmland. There are cows and sheep everywhere. There are ways I could avoid these things: walking only at certain times and in certain places, keeping him on a lead more than I have but that soon takes a big chunk of enjoyment out of life for both human and dog and over time that can cause more problems. That's the dark place I was in at about 3 this morning.
Awake again at 5, I lay staring at the ceiling and looked at the story so far. Had anything hideous happened? No. Was he in trouble? No. Was I? No. Had pain been felt by anyone or anything at anytime? No. Had anyone been scared? Just me. Is there a good to excellent chance that working with Dooley to sharpen his focus on me while we are out, while allowing him to settle and relax in his new surroundings, will improve things? Hell yeah.
I have this thing that happens. I've written about it here many times. I hear voices, or rather, I know what was just said to me. It's as if I'm remembering the nanosecond that just passed, so soon after the event that it feels like the present. Sometimes I think it's an external voice; sometimes I think it's my intuition or my future self or my higher self. Sometimes it's not so much a voice as imparted knowledge. I'm not trying to get all mystical, it's just what happens, it's absolutely not 'just my thoughts' and it's reliable. It speaks/shares the truth.
This is what it told me:
"Stop it. Just stop it. This dog is your dog. He's your dog. You knew he was coming two years ago and you know that this is him. You know each other. He's here to walk with you on the next part of your path and you're here to walk with him on his. Do the work. Do the damn work. You will both learn so much more than you think. You'll both learn so much beyond the practical. This is a doorway. Now get your arse through it. This was never supposed to be easy because you have always flat out refused to learn from 'easy'.
P.S. That 'generous male who will inspire you to great things but may be a pain in the butt to work with', who appeared in your tarot reading? Did she say he had two legs?"
Chastened, out in the early sunshine I walked through a field next to one where sheep were still lying in dew-sodden grass, warming up. Dooley, temporarily on his lead, stared at them but we walked on. A safe distance away I unclipped him and in a split second he turned and was off. Across a field, straight under a gate and in amongst the sheep. I grabbed Zoey, put her lead on (she chases sheep too but is the size of a large sandwich and about as fast so it's less of an issue) and ran after the errant dog over a five bar gate and then a wire fence. Zoey followed me just as the electric charge went through it, zapping her on her head. She screamed and looked at me in disbelief, cowering away from me, convinced I'd just stabbed her. I scooped her up, covered her in kisses and turned to see Dooley flying around the field with the sheep (fairly unconvincingly, it must be said) running away from him. I was thankful for two things: it is a small field and there were no young lambs. Okay, three things...these sheep are used to extremely professional sheepdogs who ride quad bikes'n'shit (no really, they do) and can turn a couple of hundred sheep into a Busby Berkeley routine (ask your grandparents). Every now and then they'd stop and stare at Dooley with a,"Who the heck is this numpty? We can't work with this! " expression. Meanwhile he'd turned and was chasing the other half of the flock in the other direction. My inner pessimist was by now expecting him to appear over the horizon with a bloody corpse hanging from his mouth. I was calling and calling, using all the things he'd responded to before but he was up wind and clearly couldn't hear a thing. As I yelled and ran I noticed that far from nipping at legs and trying for an early breakfast, he was charging into the middle of the flock and, when they slowed down, he'd turn and chase off after some sheep more prepared to run around a bit. He could've taken out several sheep but he didn't touch a single one. Finally he heard my voice, looked over, ran straight to me and sat squarely at my feet.
(Leaving the field on his lead, this time Dooley got zapped by the fence and also yelled out, cowering down in terror. He also thinks it was me that hurt him. Great. You've never seen two such heartbroken faces. Make that three.)
I don't take these things lightly. Dogs that worry sheep are a nuisance and it's against the law. I know the farmer here well and I think, as long as no harm was done, he'd give Dooley the benefit of the doubt once, maybe even twice but that's not the point. It's at best a fine-able offence to let your dog worry livestock and there have been cases where a farmer has shot a troublesome dog and not been prosecuted for it.
This is what the experience gave me: proof that although he loves to chase, really loves to chase, Dooley is not interested in hurting anyone. And when I can get his attention, he behaves exactly as I'd wish him to. I saw the truth of these things in a small, safe field with animals who were not remotely traumatised and nobody got hurt (even the fence gives a low enough charge for me to be able to hold it in my hand and not flinch). If I were so inclined, I might think that it was a pointed and practical demonstration of what I had been told earlier. I could dwell on the fact that throughout, I felt as if I were standing on the holodeck with no real danger. Learning that I should stop borrowing trouble and work with the great dog that Dooley is. "You want proof? Here's proof. Now get over yourself and stop being so bloody afraid."
I'm dusting off the clicker that's been sitting idle in The Drawer O'Doom, chopping up some tasty treats especially for training lessons and doing the damn work.