There was a time, in A.J.’s first year with us, when I had to walk him by myself. He wasn’t the most well-behaved dog on leash (to put it mildly), and I had to tough it out through walk after walk, every day, with this awful-to-walk dog. There were no leisurely family strolls through the neighborhood with this dog.
Many, many, many hours of training later, A.J. and I learned to communicate and walks became pleasant. At that point Greg started coming with us, and the three of us had nice (albeit never leisurely) walks together.
Fast forward a few years: Greg is now expected to go on walks with us. Just ask A.J.
One day Greg and I took A.J. for a long morning walk. In the afternoon we sat down in front of the TV to watch a ball game. Near the end of the game A.J. was doing a lot of staring, letting us know it was time for another walk. With about five minutes left in the game it was obvious our team was going to win, so I decided to take A.J. for his walk. Greg stayed home to watch the last few minutes of the game.
I put A.J.’s collar and leash on him and we headed out the door. We went about five feet down the sidewalk when he stopped. He looked at me, then looked back at the front door. I told him “Come on, let’s go.” He wouldn’t budge.
“A.J., come on.”
He took about three steps, and stopped again.
“Hey, come ON!”
He still wouldn’t move. A.J. had decided that we’d left Greg behind, and we needed to go back and get him.
I dropped the leash and walked about 20 feet down the sidewalk. A.J. didn’t move.
He came running to me, but he was doing the ducking-his-head-down-and-wiggling thing dogs do when something’s wrong. He kept looking back at the house.
I picked up the leash, said “He’s not coming, let’s go,” and we walked another 20 feet. Then he stopped.
He continued to look back to the house. Then he saw a man across the street and desperately wanted to cross the street to go see this person. He obviously thought that person must be Greg (in spite of the fact that he didn’t look anything like him).
I finally gave up. We walked back to the house and went inside. I took the leash off, and A.J. went running to Greg, who was still sitting exactly where we’d left him five minutes earlier. I sat down, irritated. “Apparently I’m not allowed to walk my dog by myself.”
Greg petted A.J. for a minute. When he stopped, A.J. came over to me, sat down right in front of me, and stared.
“I tried to take you for a walk, you wouldn’t go.”
“Fine. We’ll try this once more, but if you won’t go you’ve lost your afternoon walk.”
I got up, hooked up A.J.’s leash again, and headed out the door.
A.J. came along with no problem, and we didn’t come home for another half hour.
That was a few months ago. After that, things went along as normal for a while, although most days when Greg and I are both home we all go for walks together. Then last weekend Greg needed to run some errands, so I got out A.J.’s leash and prepared to take him for a walk by myself.
I got him all hooked up, we walked out of the house, got a few feet down the sidewalk – and stopped. A.J. started looking around, realizing there was a problem.
This time I didn’t even hesitate; we turned around and went straight back to the house. We went inside and A.J. ran to Greg. I said “He needs to see that you’re staying here.” Greg assured him everything was fine. I then picked up the leash, and A.J. and I headed out for a very nice walk.
Dogs are so weird.