Living Between the Lines

Having the Right Tools

Sometimes, just walking up Twynhams Hill, feels more like climbing Everest. At others it’s a breeze and I don’t even notice it.
It struck me today, as I almost sauntered up the incline with one of the dogs, that life is a series of hills that we have to climb. Sometimes they are steep, sometimes gentle and the same slope you climbed effortlessly yesterday can seem more difficult to get over today.

Today, I took our four and a half year-old border terrier, Charlie, for a walk. When on the lead, Charlie has issues when he meets another dog coming towards him. He goes into panic mode and begins growling and straining on the leash. See this post!
Walks used to be quite traumatic as he’d often spin round in his blind panic and on a couple of occasions has caught my leg with his bared teeth.
A wonderful dog trainer gave me the tools I needed to stop this happening. He told me which lead to use, how to put myself in charge and how to stop Charlie’s mounting anxiety from escalating. This method is working and walks have become a lot calmer. However, I rarely take Charlie very far as I find the concentration on keeping him, and me, so calm, quite challenging not to mention tiring.
So, yesterday, I purchased a soft muzzle – one that looks much like a Halti and not at all threatening. It doesn’t impede Charlie’s ability to sniff, drink or eat but it does stop him from snapping.
Today, I walked him to the common. We met several dogs. Charlie attempted to go into his usual panic mode but because I knew he could not actually bite me by accident, I remained super calm and was able to avert any potential problems. His behaviour did not escalate. I was relaxed so he was relaxed and by the time we got home I felt refreshed and totally calm. No wonder I did not notice any hills along the way. Charlie did not object to the soft muzzle at all I might add.

This morning, I was also aware that later in the day I would need to drive to pick up Doris, my daughter’s gorgeous English Bull Dog and then, later still, drive to the children’s school and collect three of my grandchildren who will be spending the night here. The evening will doubtless be hectic if fun, so being able to grab 65 minutes to go on a peaceful, frosty walk this morning was Gold time indeed.

The analogy I draw from this is that life and those pesky hills, are so much easier to manage if we have the right tools and know how to use them.

Charlie Brown sporting his new soft muzzle
Common in the frost
The common on a frosty, sunny morning – how tranquil!

I am an Author, wife to one, mother to five and grandmother to six. I live in the English countryside in Hampshire, UK, with my husband and two dogs and am a non exec Director for Glow


  • patricia60

    Our Border Terrier – Lorax- nearly pulls and drags me when he is here visiting – He is a fast and furious speed demon. He also has some strange anxiety attacks. His forte is keeping my daughter’s chicken safe – he has killed several opossums and numerous rats from her urban yard. Now if he could just get those pesky squirrels up in the very tall and old tree!!! They are very fun dogs for sure, but I wonder why they are so anxious around other dogs? We have a soft muzzle that makes him look like he has a duck bill. Also Lorax does not seem to like babies? Nice story telling – Yes good to have the right tools

    • Debbie

      Patricia, I am not sure Charlie Brown would keep a chicken safe, he’d more likely attack it (although to be fair, I have never seen him catch a bird). I have read a lot about Borders and they do seem prone to this anxiety around other dogs. Charlie is fine if a dog is walking away from him, it’s just those that appear in front of him he must find threatening. He is very gentle with the grandchildren though I’d never leave him alone with any small child just in case as he has been known to snap in warning if wound up. After Flossie, he has been a real eye opener! We will persevere. Lorax sounds lovely 🙂

  • hilarymb

    Hi Debbie – that soft-muzzle ‘trick’ looks to be a wise buy … and generally keeping both of you happier as you walk. You are busy … lots always going on – take care and a fortnight later enjoy the coming February! Cheers Hilary

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