Waking to another retirement day while wintering here in Mesa, Arizona, I think about what I would like to accomplish. I know I need to get some grocery shopping done, but first the morning routine and chores. Last on the list, Jagger and I have our breakfast. When we finish, I ask him if he wants to go for a ride in the truck. He is all over it. I leash him up and out the door we go. We’re off, starting down the trail in the Workhorse.
Still inside the RV Park, not a block away from our campsite, I see a golf cart with a familiar figure in it. It’s Larry, a Host here at the park who we met last year. I let up on the gas slowing the Workhorse to a complete stop. Rolling my window down as Larry approaches the truck. Jagger jumps to the front seat, wiggling his little tailless behind and sticks his head out the window, like he just saw his favorite friend. Larry, who has his own Aussie, extends his hand slowly to greet Jagger. At the same time he asks, “How is Jagger doing? Has he gotten any better since you left the park last March?” I greet him and start to say, “Oh yeah, he’s a lot better,” I spoke too soon. Jagger promptly sniffs, growls, and shows his teeth. Larry, at the same time, retracts his hand. Of course this is embarrassing to me and it should be to Jagger, but he’s pretty cocky about controlling his truck.
I apologize, saying, “Well, I guess he hasn’t improved all that much!” Then came the awkwardness, Jagger had hurt Larry’s feelings. I’m sure Larry was happy to see him at first, now stumbling for what to say next. Larry soon parts ways, leaving Jagger and I to go for a morning walk near the Arizona desert’s edge.
Our walk is short and full of conversation, Jagger knows I am upset with him. “How can I continue this relationship with you if I can’t trust you?” Of course I blame myself for lack of knowledge. I think back to how he has improved and try to reassure myself. It’s true, he is protective of his truck. But the homeless man who was stealing the bike last month approached the truck, stuck his hand out even after I warned him, Jagger growled but accepted him. I have noticed him sliding back into his aggressive mode since we got back to our winter home at the RV Park. I wonder if it’s me or this location? Until we got here he was doing better, I was trusting him to run free in the National Forest and meet a few new friends. He was doing so good! I just don’t understand..
When we return home I leave Jagger and go to my happy place, Wal-Mart. I don’t know why this has become my go-to spot, maybe because of all the toys they have here 🙂 Jagger and I need a time out today. I focus on what I “need” and get out of there before my “wants” distract me. Upon returning I notice Jagger keeps his distance instead of inspecting the grocery bags like he usually does. I caught a little sadness in his eyes, I’m sure he saw the same in mine.
I sit down to write an email, reaching out to The Joyful Animal. Jewel replies quickly to my email, answering a few questions I have about muzzling and sharing some encouragement. I hate muzzles and Jagger probably will too, but I need to be responsible until I can feel more comfortable when strangers approach, especially when we’re in the truck. More to come on this subject!
In the evening I take Jagger for a walk along the desert edge and God paints a peaceful sky for us. Jagger and I lock eyes giving silent apologies, in agreement with the work we have ahead of us. When we get back home, I shop on Amazon and make a purchase of a dog muzzle for next day delivery (before he talks me out of it).
In the morning I do something I seldom do….watch TV. I welcome the advice of the great Cesar Milan https://www.cesarsway.com/. That guy is unbelievable with dogs. He is my hero, filling my head with ideas and my spirit with inspiration. I always feel better after watching his program.
In the afternoon I hear the UPS truck approach and drop a package. Of course Jagger is excited, it’s a box! I open it and immediately start the training, feeding him treats through the muzzle. He doesn’t question getting treats but I can see his wheels turning about this new device. I’m hoping this will give us both the opportunity to gain assurance even though muzzles put a bad taste in my mouth! We will see how he does soon. I still hate muzzles! (I’ll bet Jagger will too)