Saturday, August 14, 2010

Trust Expanded

We took the little monster... er... I mean Zuko to Ft. Funston today. For those of you not in the Bay Area, this is pretty much Dog Heaven. Lots of rolling hills and sand dunes at the top of the cliffs. Down on the beach area it just goes on and on - cliffs on one side, water on the other and lots of room to run! For dog owners with recall concerns, the beach is a great area to practice since two directions are closed off by cliffs and water, leaving only two possible escape routes.

In the past I've had Zuko drag a leash so when it is time to catch him, I can step on the leash and stop him in his tracks. The leash also tangles up on his legs and slows the little guy down. All part of my evil plan to control my Shiba. Today, the leash kept really tangling on his back leg and he'd have to stop and wait for us to untangle it. My husband and I made the decision to just take the leash off. And what did Zuko do?? He was GONE up the beach in flash - it was as if he knew he had full freedom. He was still in visual range so we started trudging up that way. He found some dogs to play with for a bit and then suddenly he was coming back our way! Yeah!

I had the ultimate motivator in my pocket: turkey pepperoni. We had skipped breakfast this morning so little dog was very, very hungry and turkey pepperoni is his favorite. It seems he would occasionally remember I had this amazing treat in my pocket and he'd come back to me - sometimes without me even calling him.

We didn't have our Flip video camera with us, but I wish we did - the sheer joy of watching Zuko run with full abandon was great to see. He'd stop, frantically dig in the sand, stick his nose in there and flip out sand and water and then just take off again. By the end he was covered in sand with his tongue hanging out and a belly full of turkey pepperoni. GOOD DOG!

-- Posted by Zuko's mom


  1. omg... Ft Funston looks AWESOME! Next trip to the Bay Area will definitely include a stop there...

  2. I don't trust Misaki off her leash outside our backyard for a second, but it sure would be fun to see her run around in a much bigger area like that!

  3. Oh yea yea yea! We love Fort Funston! (Though we've only been once.)

    I hope you are able to maintain this relationship of trust. And it really is a matter of *trust*, I think, with an off-leash shiba... somewhere along the way, ours learned to trust that we would give him the opportunity to run around off-leash again, as long as we could continue to trust him to stay within sight. I'm still figuring out how to explain it, but it's some kind of sympathetic understanding that's worked well for both my shiba and basenji. So we often go to Pt. Isabel, the Berkeley Marina/Cesar E. Chavez, etc. and they get to have fun off leash. Not doable or even recommended with every shiba or basenji, but I don't think it's as crazy or dangerous as some people make it out to be.

    Of course, we also live in one of the most dog-friendly places in the US, if not the world, so...

  4. Hi everyone! Thanks for the comments. I really need to turn off moderation on one has ever sent nasty-grams!

    If any of you are ever in the SF area, let us know. demondogsports at gmail dot com. We'd love to host you at Ft. Funston. It has been a great place for us to expand our trust. That being said, it is selective trust with Zuko. I would never trust him on other beaches that have easy escape routes or in dog parks that don't have fences. :-) Maybe some day.

  5. That's so great that Zuko got some off leash time. it's a great feeling when they come back.

  6. Hooray for Zuko and turkey pepperoni!

    We want an area like that to play in too!

    Shio does the same thing in the sand too! Only when he starts furiously digging, we think he's trying to tunnel his way back to Japan!