I've always thought that Thane had just one speed- well two if you count when he is laying down or sleeping. As I trained him, his pull in harness could at times be downright painful to me. I never equated Thane's actions with that of myself, other than the later revelations of the emotions going down the leash (see What I Feel, He Reveals)
Thane's guiding in the community for long walks, often led to his panting or outright overheating depending on the time of year and temperature. I'd brought this up with the veterinarian before, but like myself, she felt it was about the breed that goes all out or nothing at all. Most dogs, as she explained it, will slow down when they are warm, but not my little redhead, or is that really the case? I mean afterall, isn't it true that he can only slow down if I do?
During a bad pain spell recently, I just needed to move really slowly to avoid any hard thumps on my spine as I went over uneven sidewalk. I was both surprised and grateful with how slow, but still confident Thane was in guiding me. I did not think a whole lot of it, other than maybe my slower speech due to pain level was giving him the right feel through the leash to do just as he was- guide slowly and more cautiously (in a good way).
After this had passed, however, I reverted back to my speed demon way of life and as if I had put it on cue, Thane's pull in harness increased. It was not anything outlandish or painful, but it was notably different. We were essentially little maniacs. By the time our walk was only half complete, he was in *pant mode* on a day when I had my hoods all fastened up around me and fingers going numb from the cold.
As I was sitting inside thinking about our work after our walk and errand were complete, I began to wonder about speed- you know that concept that every action has an equal reaction or something along those lines. I got thinking of this sort of concept more in reaction to the speed at which he climbs the bus ramp- the fact that I always forget to dial down my speed after our good walk to the bus before flying aboard- just kidding, but we do board with more speed when I forget this little (or should I say big) detail.
Interestingly though, when I kept the speed at indoor level rather than our speedster pace on our complex grounds, Thane also slowed down and walked at that more appropriate gait and pull in harness. It felt like such a huge revelation- one I could not believe it took me over three years of training and working with this guy to come to.
It took some adjustment for both Thane and I today as we took off for our walk and errand at a slower speed. At one point I realized that there is slower and there is too slow. I sped it up a bit and things went smoothly. His pull in harness was absolutely perfect for about ninety-seven percent of our time out. I was really proud of him; of us. I will admit, I miss the speed and it may have its time or place still, but today I just feel happy that we worked so well together- and all it took was turning the speed dial down a bit. It will be an adjustment for sure on both of our parts as we learn to put speed behind us and work at a more casual pace.
It will be neat to see how a slower speed impacts his issues with overheating as the temps warm up (if they warm up). It will also be cool to see just how much more enjoyment and precision we might get out of our morning walks. Of course I am also working with a dog whose always in a hurry to get to wherever it is we are headed. This could turn into quite an interesting experiment- the two of us learning that we don't have to leave the world in the dust of my wheels.