As anyone who knows me can attest, I am
Because the event is swarming with humans and dogs alike, it is definitely not for everyone. The added dog factor is especially tough because not everyone is necessarily paying attention to where their pets are walking. I tried to deal with that by keeping an eye on the dogs around us and watching Zoe for any kind of cues that she was uncomfortable.
By and large, it was a successful walk! Z didn't react to any dogs, and was tolerant of those around her. (I've learned that she hates it when dogs jump in her face -- although she often finds it perfectly acceptable to do the same thing to other dogs!). Compared to her behavior last year, I can see that Zoe's experience with Chicago SociaBulls walks has helped her manage this type of setting. The main difference that we saw was that she now understands that she does not need to meet and greet every single person and dog that comes her way -- which isn't to say that she still wouldn't love to if we would let her.
Of course, there were still many moments when I had to work hard to get her to focus on me. We are still struggling with her jumping problem when greeting new people, and she most definitely tried to go "bucking bronco" on the leash a few times. With the help of our trainer, I've learned that asking Zoe to "work" for me by sitting (or doing any kind of command) really helps her regain her calm.
And naturally, having lots of tasty treats on hand helped too!
While the walk itself was tons of fun, here's the best part: thanks to our incredibly generous family and friends, we were able to raise $700 dollars for PAWS this year! That's more than ever before, and I cannot express how grateful we are. We certainly wouldn't have been able to do it without such an amazing network of animal lovers!
We cannot thank you enough for helping to better the lives of Chicago's neediest animals! It's because of people like you that dogs like Zoe get a fresh start in life. Thank you, thank you, thank you.