Exorcism by Love

REMEMBER LOCKIE?  That sweet, that dear, calm, gentle, thoughtful, wise, understanding, soft, fluffy little Shetland Sheepdog puppy who walked with me a few steps, no leash, never barked, who captivated my heart with a single look?

He was so sweet, for two days in my house.  I was so kind to him!  I told him that this was now his house, and the lands around, they were his lands.  He was a Sheltie Prince.  Because these words were in the past tense, you suspect that there was a change.

You’re right.

Third day, a fine day for walking, but oddly enough, my shoes were gone!  Could I have left them in the car?  Why would I have done such a th… I took a few steps toward the car, and there they were, both of my shoes, on Lockie’s little pillow-bed in my bedroom.  He could barely rest there in his pillow, since the shoes were so big, the two of them.  I must have left them out and this neat little Prince and Butler took them under his care.

That’s fine, we’ll go for a walk.  A short walk, a quarter of a mile, and for the time he should wear a little harness that I’ll clip to a leash.

I watched him at one end of the room, blinked for a second, and he was at the opposite end of the room…ZAM!  I thought he was probably going to be an awfully fast runner, so wouldn’t it seem reasonable to leash a puppy for his first real walk?  Aren’t there so many places in a forest for a new Sheltie to get lost at such high speed?  I agree.  Until he learns the boundaries of his home, a leash is reasonable.

So I fitted him with the Size Small harness, he seemed to enjoy it.  I clipped on the leash, carried him out to the forest road, set him gently down, and said, “Good boy, Lockie, let’s have a walk!”

Nothing.  My runner was stone at the end of the leash.  “C’mon Lockie, time for your walk!”

I tugged lightly on the leash and the dog went berserk.  He tugged back so hard I lost my balance, and when I could see him again, he was a spiral-eye evil spirit at the end of the leash.  He thrashed wildly, I saw a blurred vision of non-stop tumbling hand-springs, a twisting backward layout that a pit-bull couldn’t survive.  He was a crazed mountain colt under three lariats of The Misfits, Marilyn Monroe would have locked me into the lowest hell for dog-tormentors.

I ran to him, let go of the leash and fortunately caught him on the bounce, held him tightly.  The leash, or was it the harness, it was the bridge of crazy spirits.

He calmed after a minute.  “Lockie, it’s just a leash!  It’s for your safety!”  I set him down.  He was trembling.

“It’s just a little walk,” I said.  “Leash for your safety…” I had touched the handle of the leash and Lockie went into orbit fell onto his back, feet in the sky, “I’ll-die-if-you-drag-me-inverted-on-the-string!  Kill-me-if-you-must-I’m-only-a-little-puppy!!!”

Half a glance from Marilyn, “You MONSTER!  RICHARD I hope I NEVER see you AG…”  and I was done.

“No walk, Lockie.  No leash, no harness, no nothing!”  He trembled till he was free, in the house again.

I called my friend Sabryna.  “You know the puppy?  Lockie?  The same one we drove home from the airport?”

“Of course.”

“Evil spirits!”

She heard my story, wasn’t frightened.  “Do you mind if I come over, and try a walk with him?”

“I’d love for you to do that.  But I’ve never seen any dog wild about a leash before, he thinks it’s a snake!  Don’t expect too much.”

“I’ll be there.”

Of course when she arrived, Lockie loved her.  Just the sweetest little puppy.  Only I knew the Spirits of the Leash.

She held him, fit the harness around his chest, talking with him softly, endlessly.  “There’s the little Lockie!  So sweet!  We’re going to have a walk together!  Won’t that be fun?  You’ll have your harness, your leash, and we’ll walk through the forest…”

I hadn’t talked with him as much as she did.  But that talk is not where the evil spirits lay.  Sabryna took a lot of little puppy-food treats with her.  She picked him up, walked out of the door.  “Oh, look at the sunshine!  And all the trees and the birds, they’ll be so happy to see you today, Lockie!”

She set him down at the forest road.  Moved the leash ahead.  He was stone at the end of the leash.  “Here we go, on a nice walk!”

I knew he was about ready to go berserk.

But instead of tugging on the leash, she walked back to him, and she lay down on the ground next to him.  “You’re so brave!  To have the leash on you, and the harness.  Here are some treats for you!”  Instead of going to the moon, he crunched on the little pieces.  Came close to her.  “You made a step, Lockie!  Good for you!  Here’s some treats for you!”

Crunch, crunch…

She sweet-talked him, gave him treats for every blink of his eyes.

“You’re such a good boy, Lockie.  So good!  Here are some treats for being good!”

Crunch, crunch…

After a while, Sabryna got up from the road, knelt near the puppy, fed him treats.  And after a few minutes, she started to walk.

Oh, my, I thought.  Here’s the test!

She didn’t tug on the leash.  She took some baby steps, and would you believe, Lockie stepped with her!

“Good steps!  Good walk!”


Crunch, crunch…

And that was it.  No snakes, no evil spirits.  Lockie walked easily with her, with us.  The leash never tugged him, it was loose up hills, down hills.  A hundred feet, and she gave the leash to me, and there was not a squeak from Lockie.  He was enjoying the walk.

We stopped when she saw some little flowers, Lockie stopped too, to admire them.  Then we walked on, and the puppy trotted up the steps to the deck.  More treats. Good dog, Lockie!  Good puppy!

“Call me, if you have any problems,” she said.

I said, “Thank you, for what you did, Sabryna.  Really.  A miracle!  Thank you.

She’s no dog trainer.

She just loves.

8 thoughts on “Exorcism by Love

  1. It gives me chills, sometimes, to observe the hidden messages in your words. Not just a story of training a puppy to a leash. A story of living our lives…patience and rewards and love. Oh, but just to be on the safe side, put your shoes in the closet.

  2. What a beautiful story! Thank you for sharing it. I’ve been reading your posts since your website came back online. Although I rarely comment, I’ve enjoyed them all, the inspiration, the humor and most especially, the love.

  3. Sorry I am asking for one Word, because many years ago I came to visit this on line place, and there ‘s a advice about was fixed, but i can not came again… when I saw the advice, a great feeling of friendship full my soul…. And now I need a Word, full with a same sense, please. Any one, I know that you have one word for me.

  4. You are one of the finest story-tellers I know of, you make such majestic beauty from such humility. Thank you.

  5. Love this piece cos I’m right there experiencing every moment as Lockie, as you, as Sabryna and as heart opening to love. And I think I would not play it safe – I’d want Lockie to love on any of my shoes – would make wearing them just that little bit better. Greetings from South Africa Jane & Richard

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