she chased a squirrel!

this may be the opposite of what a lot of puppy owners want, chasing things on walks, but for Ramona it represents kind of a big breakthrough.

we live right on a very busy three-way intersection, so out front the cars are kind of unavoidable. and loud -- even I think they're obnoxious and startling sometimes, so for a puppy I can only imagine. and sure enough, Ramona has been so afraid of cars, freezing and shaking, and even though there's a nice big park right across the street, the only way I could get her there was to carry her, and then she was just too freaked out and spooked to even enjoy the park while we there, because she could still see and hear cars.

I had started to despair and kind of resign myself to maybe we would never be able to go on walks in my neighborhood, I would just have to always take her to forest preserves or other quieter places. but, in the midst of me taking her on walks in different locales, it seems her confidence has been increasing without me really noticing at first.

it started when I switched up our attempted route -- all this time, I thought if we walked away from the intersection she'd like that, but in her little dog brain she just hated it and refused to walk up the block. so instead I took her toward the intersection and walked her along the busier street, and for some reason the more constant traffic, rather than stopping and freezing every time a car came by, made it easier for her to keep walking. then, for the last few nights, I've been taking her out when it's quieter and going in different directions than our usual slog trying to drag her down my block. and to my EXTREME shock, she crossed the busy street down at a further intersection! she walked through the park! she crossed back the main busy intersection in front of our building to get home! still jumpy, still nervous about sudden sounds and loud cars, but with her harness I can get her going with "okay let's go!" after she freezes and she starts again.

which brings us to this morning -- before driving to work, I thought I'd take her through the park real quick. and she loved it! maybe even more than at night, because she could see more, and it was still quiet because it was early. she wagged her tail a little, and even tried to dart after a squirrel -- usually she's so on edge and afraid that she doesn't have that natural puppy curiosity outside. but she did, and she sniffed and explored a little, and didn't yank too hard to drag me back when we were on our way home.

it was a good reminder to me that puppyhood can be so all-consuming, and it's hard to remember that how they are in this precise second isn't how they'll always be -- always bitey, always afraid, always needy. but it's only been a full month since she's been home with me, and in that time, as of this morning, she's gone from refusing to leave the front yard to crossing the street and going all the way around the park. it gives me so much hope for longer walks, eventually even runs, and getting her more and more confident in walking in the city, different locales, distractions, noises, etc.

anyway! I'm just really pleased, at this moment in time, with her progress. my two main training goals for her have been 1) learn to be comfortable on walks and 2) learn to leave the cat alone, and it's validating to see things trending in the right direction on both, and to realize progress actually has happened in a short amount of time. hang in there, everybody! progress is possible!

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