Fergus the Brave
I myself always love challenging jobs as it gives me a great sense of accomplishment. With an open mind, I approached this situation with Fergus not knowing what would be the outcome. On day one, when I arrived to walk Fergus, he greeted me with snarls and ferocious barking. He was a very unhappy dog. That day I determined two things, mainly Fergus was most likely hard of hearing and secondly, his body language showed that he no desire to be leashed. Oddly, Fergus I knew indicated that he really wanted to go outside. He would go to the front door, but his nervousness prevented him from allowing me to leash him. I knew that if I forced the leashing issue, the outcome would not have been good. That first day, we both had to be satisfied some outside time off leash in the garden. It would take patience and a commitment on my part as I knew transitions would always be difficult.
It was obvious to me that I needed to build trust with Fergus first and maybe at some point Fergus would trust me enough to allow me to leash him. The challenge was not easy. I tried different strategies with him, making sure I did not startle him on arrival, talking to him and allowing him to feel comfortable with me in his space, playing ball with him, and of course giving him the odd treat or two. Fergus couldn’t be rushed and if I was going to have success I had to take my time and watch for positive cues from Fergus. After three weeks, Fergus was ready, and he allowed me to leash him. The first time we went outside together was amazing. Fergus loved the outdoors. Although, he is still nervous and very reactive to other dogs, people, and mail trucks, he was finally free. He sniffed and explored and I knew from this day forward we would never look back. Fergus now greets me every day with excitement because he knows the outside world is not a scary place with me by his side guiding him and keeping his anxiety to a minimum. It feels great knowing that I made a difference in the well-being of Fergus particularly as he heads into his senior years.