Sunday, June 21, 2015

Charlie Hikes With A Friend

Yes, you heard that right! Charlie has a friend. For reals.

Charlie and Ellie at Grandfather Falls Segment

Charlie has been fear-aggressive toward other dogs for a couple of years now. We've worked with a trainer occasionally to help her resolve these issues and the trainer had recommended that I find one or two other dogs in my neighborhood that we could continue "practicing" with.

Unfortunately I had not found any good prospects, until a month ago, when I saw my neighbor walking her 2 dogs and decided to talk to her as she passed my front porch.

I explained the situation with Charlie and asked if she'd be willing to help me out. She said yes!

So we started out slowly and introduced them properly. They got used to each other on neutral territory with lots of positive reinforcement (treats and praise). Sara and I were both cautious and a little nervous at times, but eventually the dogs got used to each other and even began looking forward to their nightly walks together.

It was such an amazing feeling that I seriously wanted to *cheer* out loud.

So today was the next step in their "friendship"... riding in a car together to go hiking.

I buckled Charlie into her harness in the front seat and Sara sat in the backseat with Ellie also buckled in. There was a moment of growling at first, and then they both just sat in their seats and relaxed.

Again - amazing!

The hike went just as well. Charlie and Ellie walked side by side with no tension or aggressiveness from Charlie and they even drank out of the same water bowl with no issues (where a month ago, Charlie growled and snapped at Ellie for drinking out of "her" travel bowl).

Hopefully Sara and I will recruit other neighborhood dogs into our evening walks and perhaps even start a hiking meet-up for other dog-lovers and continue to expand Charlie's social network.

You have no idea how happy this makes me!!! Also, it's super-awesome to have someone *help* me pose the dogs for blog pictures... this is way harder than it looks! (Thanks Sara)


  1. [Smile] This is wonderful! Love the picture of Charlie "kissing" Ellie. Makes my heart happy. Thanks for sharing this story. :)

    1. Sara and I used to be so nervous when the dogs' faces got that close... we were never sure if Charlie was going to snap at Ellie. It's such a relief to recognize their relaxed body language and trust Charlie to behave! :)

  2. Oh, I do so wish I lived closer to you! McGwinn is also not great around other dogs and I would love to join your evening walks and perhaps make friends with
    Charlie as well. Such a great story and I hope we get to read about other adventures with Elle! So happy for you both!

    1. Oh I wish you were closer too! McGwinn would make a great addition to the "pack." :)

  3. Not sure what area of town you are in but one of our Labs, Missy, loves other dogs and loves to hike. She's on the submissive side and all around friendly, can be a little sensitive. We could discuss getting the together.

    1. Hi Jamie! We typically hike on the East side of Wausau. Charlie and I actually saw you out walking once near Franklin St. Message me on Facebook on the Hiking With Heather page and we can talk! :)