Leashing is a skill that dogs master over a lifetime. I have maybe a dark grey belt (leash? collar? Nah, the metaphor doesn’t work. Let’s stick with belt) in leashing. That’s medium. My sister isn’t as good as me. She is maybe a light grey belt. If dogs weren’t colorblind, the belt system would be much more exciting but harder to understand, like jiu jitsu -another thing I’m good at.
When you’re on a leash you have to remember that you’re tied to a person, so not only do you have to pay attention to where you’re going and all the smells, but also to what your partner is doing. You can’t go too fast because then they scream and bang on the leash, but you can’t go too slow either because then they groan and tell you to hurry up and “quit messing around.” Running behind your partner sometimes works, because you can watch them closely, but you have to be careful because sometimes they trip on the leash or you get kicked in the face.
Doubles leashing is even more complicated. When you’re alone and running hands-free you can just change lanes whenever you want, and the leash rotates around your partner’s waist. But that doesn’t work when you’re playing doubles. If you’re playing doubles and you run around behind your person and try to pass them on the other side, the second leash holds the waist strap in place so it doesn’t rotate. Instead, your leash hooks around your partner’s butt and then pulls them forward and makes them yell at you in a really mean voice, and then everyone has to stop. Mushing works (both dogs running out front) but it’s real hard not to go too fast and pull your human down on their face (people really hate that). Making the human mush works too, but people don’t like to pull, and it makes them grouchy so it’s just not worth it.
Mom and Bodie and I have been practicing doubles leashing and kind of have this tandem thing worked out where Bodie pulls Mom, and Mom pulls me, and I’m the caboose. It’s not perfect, because Bodie is an awful navigator, so she zigzags back and forth saying, “this way? No? This way? No? Don’t wanna go straight. How about this way?” She cuts Mom off a lot, and so Mom gets confused and stutter steps a lot, so I kind of rear end her with my giant head, and then I get kicked in the face.
But you know what’s easier when doubles leashing? Avoiding pictures! This morning Mom wanted to chase down R2D2. So we veered into the Microsoft parking lot where R2D2 lives. We chased R2D2 into a corner, and then Mom got down on one knee. My sister and I are experts at this. Every time one of us was between her and R2D2, the other would do-si-do behind her. When the phone comes out is the only time I “forget” what “sit” and “stay” mean. Bodie just ignores Mom.
“Come on, you guys. Do something interesting!” Mom begged.
“Dude, it’s raining,” I said, staring at Mom balefully and making sure to stay out of frame.
“This is not a critter,” Bodie added, not amused. “In fact, I don’t think there are ANY critters in this parking lot. Let’s go.”
Mom disagreed, but she was outnumbered, and tandem leashing is a democracy.
-Oscar the Grey Belt