“What the heck-fire is THIS?” Fido wanted to know.
“It’s called a ‘Gentle Leader’ you big red lug,” said I.
“Don’t like it, don’t like it, don’t like it, don’t like it.”
What Fido likes is the same thing every day. Breakfast at the same time.
Dogwalks at the same time, more or less. College sports on Saturday, NBA on Thursday, etc. Same food every day, a biscuit at lunchtime. Fido loves his biscuits.
“But this?” he demanded.
I was unpacking the Gentle Leader and reading the poop sheet, so to speak.
I said to Fido that the contraption will allow me to communicate with him in a way that he will instinctively (well, supposedly) understand.
“The nose loop encircles the dog’s muzzle and applies light pressure in the same manner in which the lead dogs naturally communicate with dogs lower in rank,” the instructions said.
“Because of the placement of the nose loop, the dog immediately understands his/her place in the hierarchy. The dog considers the owner his/her leader.”
“I know this is going to be a new thing for both of us,” I said to Fido.
“But sometimes you just about pull my arm off when we use the training collar and you go after a critter. Egad, you’re a strong boy.”
The collar has two soft nylon straps—the neck strap portion fits high and snug at the back of the neck above the windpipe and the other portion loops loosely around the nose behind the corners of the mouth. When fitted properly, a dog is free to open its mouth to eat, drink, pant, fetch and bark—except when one closes its mouth by gently applying pressure to the leash.
“It’s supposed to eliminate pulling on the leash, Fido,” I said. “This way, it’s virtually impossible for you to drag me down the street.”
“I don’t buy it,” Fido said. “It sounds like another stupid human trick to me.”
We had watched “Seabiscuit” on TV recently and both of us loved the movie, so I said to him, “This operates on the same principles as Seabiscuit’s halter. Horsemen use halters to control a horse by steering its head.
Throwing a rope around a horse’s neck doesn’t offer the same control. The horse doesn’t seem to mind at all.”
“Seabiscuit used one of these?” Fido pondered this for a while. “That horse had the greatest name of all time. I love biscuits.”
“Yeah, he used one,” I half-lied. “And just look at the legend he inspired."
So we tried it.
I think I got the fit right, although I knew it is going to take some tweaks and adjustments along the way.
Fido backed off. This was something totally unfamiliar to him.
“Don’t like it!” he snorted. “Don’t like it!”
“Doesn’t matter,” I said. “We’ve got to do something about this pulling behavior. Mammoth has a leash law, you know, and we are law-abiding citizens, you and I. It’s just that I have to figure out something for us.
Plus, I’d like to get the use of my arm back.”
Fido lay on the floor with his snout between his front legs.
“Seabiscuit used one of these?” he asked.
“Well, I guess then, bring it on.”
George and Fido. Photo/Jesse Barlet