24 pretty good hours

The past day has been happy, and I just want to share. Yesterday afternoon, we met Soca and Anne-Claire for a walk in the woods. Spencer and I were there early enough that he was already on his long lead by the time Soca showed up, so they could play together from the get-go without Spencer being frustrated by being on a leash. They played really hard, running all over like maniacs, jumping in muddy ponds and playing chase behind trees. Spencer let Anne-Claire feed him cheese twice during the walk. And he was really good with other people and dogs going by. The only sour note of the whole afternoon (which was sunny and unseasonably warm) was while we were waiting and some horses went by, setting Spencer into a frenzy, even though they were at what used to be a safe distance. Soca wore Spencer out so much that he’s been sleeping most of the day. I figured the fact he was so calm would be useful because he had a vet’s appointment for his annual check-up and a vaccine. I left early enough to take him around the park first. There were a zillion people since it was a late Friday afternoon with the gorgeous weather I mentioned earlier. It was particularly crowded because they’re doing some major construction (uncanalizing the underground river) and most of the park is actually closed. Spencer navigated it all really well and then we reached a small open lawn in the middle. We had to cross the lawn, which was a challenge since there were people pretty much everywhere, and in the middle was a very small dog that caught Spencer’s attention. He stopped, which had me slightly worried since there was a family coming up behind us with some kids on kick-scooters. But then he did something that completely surprised me. He sat down to watch the small dog and then very deliberately laid down. These are calming signals that dogs use to communicate non-threatening intentions. The little dog came over, there was some sniffing, and then they started to play chase, which was a challenge since Spencer was on a short leash and there were still loads of people around. The small dog kept being a little coy, but Spencer kept sitting and laying down. I was so proud of him because he usually can’t control his excitement well enough to perform calming signals. Finally, the little dog left, and I was able to convince Spencer to head toward the vet’s office. Once there, he was great. He got right up on the scale on command and sat there immobile while I weighed him. While he was nervous in the waiting room, he did a good job containing it, even though lots of people came in. When the vet finally came to get us, he walked right past a complete stranger. And then he was quite calm around the vet, letting her examine him, and he didn’t even flinch when she gave him his shot. Getting out of there was a challenge because the door is right next to the reception desk, and loads of people were coming in. But Spencer was great. I asked him to step behind the door, sit and let people go by. The only tiny, wee slip-up was when we left. He burst out the door, totally frustrated by how long it took us to finish at the reception, and there was a woman practically right in front of him. He barked at her, but it was really just frustration because as soon as I steered him around her, he totally forgot her, and then he paid no attention to the other two women right behind her.

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