Yesterday as I took my dog out for an early morning stroll I was not only reminded of how good a dog he is, but also how very important obedience is. Rogue is my 9-month-old Belgian Malinois mix that, typical of the breed, has a lot of energy to burn, particularly in the morning after we first wake-up. Now I am far from being a morning person, but we do what’s best for our dogs, and so started our new routine of the early morning walk. We wake up, Rogue goes out, I make my coffee, and out we go onto a local running trail just down the road. I’ve been working on some obedience with Rogue ever since I got him at about 4.5 months old, but a lot of his training has been socialization to avoid any bad behaviors. The morning walk has been a great time for us to work on some skills like come, wait, heel and let’s go- normal commands for him, but in a very new setting.
It just so happened that this morning was very nice, the sun was coming up, it was a little brisk out so the fog on the farm next to the trail was just starting to rise and overall, it was a very scenic walk. As I sipped my coffee and looked down at my side to Rogue walking along I thought it would be a nice treat to let him burn off some of his wiggles and run off-leash. We had done the same exercise several times on the farm back home and at the dog park so I knew he would listen off leash and how his ‘nose’ would take over to keep us on the trail.
As we walked I planned for the day, going through my mental list of to-dos and things I wanted to get done. Suddenly my thoughts were suddenly interrupted by a rustling in the brush next up ahead, very close to where Rogue was ‘alerting’ just a few feet ahead of me. I called out to Rogue to leave it so I could get a better look. Like a good dog he stayed right where I asked him to stand and as I saw what was in the bushes I couldn’t have been more grateful that he had listened; it was a skunk.
Although I have never seen a skunk up close, and never have the desire to do so, I knew of the ‘dangers’ they pose to dogs and the utter rank owners have to go through in order to clean them up. A friend of mine had her dog out at the farm with her when he ran into a few skunks while galavanting around. Her warning was enough after hearing about the hours spent washing her dog to remove the smell of the skunk and the lingering scent left in her car from transporting him home.
Standing paralyzed for just a moment, not sure whether to yell at the skunk or stand still like a tree, the skunk apparently decided for me. It started to run towards us. Now I have been chased by dogs, horses, and other livestock animals but nothing made me run so fast as being chased by a skunk. I quickly grabbed Rogue’s leash and we took off running, Rogue looking up at me and prancing alongside as if this was all some great game we were playing. Apparently skunks don’t give up that easy so it continued to trail us for several more feet until we finally were able to outdistance it.
Getting a little more of a workout than I had planned for the day, as I walked Rogue the rest of the way home I was reminded of what a good dog he was. Many dogs probably would have run right up to the litter stinky critter and gotten a face full of the wrong end of the skunk. But not my dog, he listened to me, was obedient, and because of that I couldn’t have been more grateful. Needless to say someone got a special treat with his breakfast…