Just had a delightful weekend. Which probably makes for a somewhat boring blog entry since there’s none of the incredible suspense you’ll typically find here, but still. I feel compelled to write.
Saturday morning Meg and Shannon arrived around the same time from western MA. We headed off together for a women’s self-defense course – something I’ve always wanted to do and opted to use my birthday gathering to encourage people to join me. The idea was for friends to join me for the class for one hour then head back to my house for a brunch.
Meg and Shannon are apparently the only two friends of mine who want to defend themselves in a dark alley encounter (I’m kidding), but no matter, we learned a lot. Two main things being that kicking or kneeing someone in the groin is not ideal because as you bring your leg up, they could knock you down. It’s always best to keep both feet on the ground. The other being that you shouldn’t try to punch your attacker. Instead, raise your arm above your head and use your body force to bring the side of your fisted hand down on or at the attacker. Your odds of making contact this way are greater than just trying to punch straight at someone.
Apparently going to a self-defense class to mark your 41st birthday isn’t the best idea since I totally wrenched my neck while learning how to get out of a hair pull. Ah, aging. What can you do except go with it (and laugh at the absurdity of injuring yourself while trying to learn how not to get injured by someone else)?
Four more of my friends joined us at home afterwards and we had lots of yummy food and great conversation. To my surprise and shock, Harlow handled the chaos, laughter, extra people and re-arranged home really well. Everyone in attendance knows Harlow, and they seemed pretty impressed with how she behaved; she just sort of hung out at the side of the room and watched.
At one point, she started to circle the table, doing her nudge for attention routine. The trainer told me that yes, she may do this for a bit of attention, but her restlessness is also a sign of being a bit stressed, and that I should bring her upstairs for some quiet time when this happen. The idea being that Harlow has not yet figured out how to remove herself from a situation to calm herself.
Harlow seemed confused when I walked her up the stairs, but the minute she got to the upstairs hallway it was like something clicked, and she went straight into the dark bedroom and laid down. I kept the door cracked just to see what she’d do. She came back down about fifteen minutes later and returned to her spot on the floor to relax and observe.
Also interesting was how she behaved around Shannon who was spending the night on Saturday. The two have met before, but as is typical with Harlow, she gets a bit uneasy with people in the house, often barking at them in the morning when they appear magically from the guest room (where did you come from!? What is this witchcraft!?). I close my door at night and stay close to her in the morning typically, but this time, when I left the room in the morning for a shower, I let her wander. I was nervous about doing this but since I knew she wasn’t likely to do much beyond barking at Shannon, I left it be. Shannon later told me that when she came downstairs Harlow was laying on the rug and simply watched her come down, not making a peep!
Shannon left on Sunday and the weather was incredible. After (over)shopping, I came home and did some yard clean-up (slowly as my neck is still troubling me), and Harlow and I got in a walk in the evening. We came across a dead-end where we frequently walk which had been blocked off so kids could play. It was a great sight to see! A homeowner came out and we began chatting. I asked her to keep distance from Harlow since she’s nervous around new people. Her son, probably about age 12, started walking up to Harlow “Oh,” I said, “if you wouldn’t mind giving her space, she’s not so good with people she doesn’t know”
He didn’t listen and kept walking towards us. I moved my body between Harlow and the kid (who was a good distance away) and said “No, I’m not kidding, please leave her alone” He finally caught on, but only when his Mom reiterated what I’d just said. Kids are dumb sometimes.
So I stood there chatting with my neighbor who also has a dog, about dog ways and behavior and what I’ve been learning about Harlow and her quirks. I said to her “It’s interesting. If I came up to you and hugged you, you probably wouldn’t like it so much. We don’t think that that’s how it is for dogs.”
“Wow, that’s a really good way to think about it!” she said.
The kids were playing around and some toy landed by Harlow and some kid came by super fast to get it, screaming as he did so, and sure enough, Harlow lunged and barked. My weirdo really can’t handle being startled. I plan on going back there regularly, watching the kids from a distance from time to time (if that’s not to creepy) to maybe desensitize her a bit to chaos.