Having given it some thought, I decided that I would move towards a point at which I would consider letting Lola off the lead in a controlled environment once I was confident she would come when called. Having outlined this position to Amelia and her friends as they played in the massive field behind the pub, she proceeded to unclip Lola’s lead, thereby letting her off the lead in an uncontrolled environment with a very tenuous ability to come when called. We all waited to see what happened. What happened was that Lola carried on lying in the grass, gradually moving to a standing position then started to wander around slowly, chewing the grass. I had worried she would immediately tear off into the surrounding woods, never to be seen again.
I was armed with treats so I tried a few ‘come’ commands with Lola. I’m not sure whether they worked as such because she raced over to me as soon as she saw the mustard pot with the treats in them. Eventually Lola recognised the joy of freedom and starting running around after the children (there were 6 of them). It was great to see her going at full speed. And although it is a massive field, she generally hung out where the people were. I had to agree with Amelia that she was right to let her off the lead. And having been told by Amelia’s friend that her grandmother said I should let her off the lead sooner rather than later (it’s amazing how different nuggets of information reach me), I felt pleased to have had my hand forced on the matter.
We returned to the field yesterday and had a similarly successful experience. As Amelia and Charlie had disappeared to climb some trees, I concentrated on walking around and keeping Lola close by me. She seemed keen not to be too far away and would follow if I walked off. A friend, Jane, told me that it’s good to make your dog watch you so if her Alfie wanders off she walks in a different direction to make him look up and go back to her. Jane said she feels faintly ridiculous as she abruptly changes direction or even hides behind trees to make Alfie keep an eye on her. I’ll give it a go next time we’re on the field.
My main worry at the moment is that Lola is too lively with Charlie. She loves chasing him if he runs, which is fine, but then she jumps up at him and has been nipping him too much. She loves playing with him, and he’s very good with her, but she gets too excited.
As it’s half term the contract (which Amelia and Charlie wrote and signed as a guarantee that they would look after any dog we got) has been coming into play a bit more. Amelia and Charlie have shown more resistance to being asked to leave their place of joy and delight (playing on the tablet/watching tv) to take Lola out to the garden. Amelia, in particular, has been reluctant to play with Lola rather than playing with her apps. On request/badgering she’ll come through to the kitchen to play with Lola then return to the living room seconds later saying that Lola was lying down and didn’t want to play. When I go into the kitchen I discover that Lola is lying down looking keen and is delighted to be invited to play a game of toy tugging or fetching or chasing. I have to refrain from comments such as, ‘please come through and play with the dog you were so desperate to get’. Well, I try to refrain from repeating it more than two or three times each day. Charlie is better at just hanging out with Lola, playing or hugging. I think Amelia will come into her own when Lola starts training and agility. Amelia needs a bit more of a purpose to her play.