As the weather continues warming up, we are finding ourselves spending more and more time outside in the Real World. Breaking out from the gym and doing our cardio time in the foothills is not only refreshing but actually challenging. Nothing like adapting to sand and gravel when you have grown accustomed to hiking on treadmills.
However, there is a fly in the ointment. Yesterday we spent about an hour hiking, covering just over 2 miles of ground. We could have gone much further, and stayed out much longer, if not for one little problem…
The Terror Of The Trails
As she has gotten older, Vixen has been getting steadily more cantankerous. Where she used to bark at other dogs, she now lunges at them. She used to love people universally – now she actually attempts to make friends with some and barks at others. Her obedience was rock steady once upon a time. Now, she pulls stunts like running out the front door and chasing a postman halfway down the street, ignoring me as I attempt to call her back.
Where this is really affecting us, though, is her behavior when we are out attempting to exercise.
Yesterday’s hike is an excellent example. We had to change directions several times due to spotting other dogs walking the trails. Those times when we were unable to avoid other creatures, we had to stop and pick her up. Otherwise, she snarls and bites as if she were infected with rabies. It is simply impossible to maintain any kind of a pace while walking her. If she is not attempting to assassinate pit bulls and german shepherds, she is diving into cacti and having to be dragged away from interesting smells.
Frankly, she is walking us, not the other way around.
Short Legs = Short Walks
The other problem is that we would both like to start lengthening our outdoor excursions. And while our endurance has grown exponentially over the past year, Vixen’s has not. She can still manage about 2 miles. After that, she simply adds 7 pounds of resistance exercise to any additional distance walked.
We have discussed the possibility of getting a larger and higher-energy dog to take on walks. But that still leaves us with our current issue: we hate leaving her at home. We have no kids, so we have inflicted serious anthropomorphic personalization on Vixen instead. We watch her looking out the window when we leave without her, and imagine that she is pining away, desperately wanting to be included.
In reality, she is probably perfectly happy to hang out on the couch and bark at every moving object that passes by the front window. But that is not how we see it. Taking a second dog with us and leaving her at home will undoubtedly just make us feel even guiltier.
The Long-Term Solution
The other thing to remember is this: Vixen is only 10 years old. That is middle-age for a Chihuahua. Her big brother lived to be 21 years old. By the time she slows down enough to want to stay home, I will be in my mid-50s. I am not sure I want to wait that long.
No, we are just going to have to bite the bullet and get our disobedient furry child some re-training. I have serious doubts about socialization training for a dog her age. “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks,” right? But we have to do something, and we are obviously not up to the task of making her “trail-worthy” ourselves.
I wonder what Cesar Milan charges for an in-home visit?
Because A Chihuahua Looks Ridiculous In A Muzzle,