FREEDOM!

I’ve been reminiscing about some Jack moments over the past couple of days maybe its because I reference him from time to time with clients or maybe its because Jack is transformed and I’m proud of that accomplishment and a big part is because so many stories are just too funny when you’re living with a Jack Russell Terrier.

One memory stands out for me and of course, my husband Eddie since he just reminded me of this experience last weekend.  A few years ago, Eddie and I were living in Germany in military housing and at this point, we only had Jack for a couple of months.  So, Jack was dealing with separation anxiety; was intolerant to ANYONE leaving the house and was on overdrive all day everyday.  For example, when Eddie and I were training for a marathon and take Jack out for a 12 miler, only to come home and he was ready to play and play he did for a couple of hours afterward.  At this point, we only had basic understanding of dog training, the trainer we did see didn’t necessarily guide us in the right direction and we were struggling with how to train his brain.

One evening early spring, Jack was as rambunctious as ever, I opened the door without fully knowing where Jack was in the room and as you may have guessed, he bolted!

This is how I remember Jack as he's saying FREEDOM!  Jack Bear in overdrive :)

This is how I remember Jack as he’s saying FREEDOM! Jack Bear in overdrive 🙂

He ran right out the front door without any hesitation or looking back.  He ran like his life depended on it. If he could speak English, he would have said, FREEDOM! from the top of his lungs as he was sprinting around all the houses up and down the street, playing with our neighbor’s dogs and chasing squirrels and birds.  If anyone experienced a situation like this, you know the though that goes through your mind; please, don’t get hit by a car while you’re panicking to think of a way to catch your dog.  Eddie and I had some level of innate understanding of Jack.  We refrained from running after him since he would have thought it were a game and tried to corner him somewhere.  We had experienced Jack getting off his collar at times, but we were able to get into the car and act like we were going somewhere and here would come Jack, bounding his way into the car like where to next!  Not this time, he wasn’t having that booby trap work on him.

As Jack began playing with Riley, our neighbor’s Australian Shepherd, we started to move in.  While our attention was taken up with little Boogs, we left our front door wide open.  On a side note, the locks on the doors in Germany were designed that you had to flip a tiny lever to prevent the door locking when you shut it.  Well, as luck would have it, our lever wasn’t working properly, so you see where this is going.  Our other neighbors were walking by with their black lab puppy who wasn’t on a leash and who got away from them and made himself comfortable in our home.  The neighbors had to go inside our house to retrieve their dog and as they were leaving, they shut the door behind them as I was walking up the walkway to get some treats for Jack.  As I passed by they told me what happened and informed me my door was open and they closed it since they didn’t think anyone was home!  I held my breath, thanked them for their courtesy and crossed my fingers the door would open magically since we were without keys.  No magic or good fortune in that moment.  I quickly remembered we don’t always lock the back door and for some reason the back door lock didn’t operate the same way, so I was almost certain we would get in.  I sprinted around the house to the back door and wouldn’t you know, we freakin’ deadbolted the door!  No getting in.  At this point, Eddie captured Jack and came over wondering what was taking me so long. I caught him up to speed and now thinking of a plan of what to do without money, car keys or phones!

Since it was a Friday evening and we lived on a military base in Germany, we couldn’t just call a locksmith to come out and we couldn’t wait until Monday to go to the housing office for help.  All the houses are designed the same with master keys held by the installation.  What to do!  We walked about a mile to the Military Police station since they would probably give us an idea of how to handle this.  They said since its a weekend, we had to go to the fire station to request the master key.  We walked another several miles to the fire station.  After several minutes of them grilling Eddie about what happened and the legitimacy of his claim, they handed over the master key and gave us one hour with it.  We had to run home with Jack in order to turn around and get the key back in time.  All in all, this took up a few hours of our evening, but now we have a funny story to tell and a great memory of the early days with Jack Bear!

Now, as I gain more experience in the dog training world, I emphasize the importance of leadership building with your dog and training consistently and gradually in order to prevent situations like this.   Your dog must have a reliable sit/stay or preferably a reliable down/stay at the door and practice opening and closing the door as he is doing those commands.  Also, the importance of ensuring your dog knows the rules of your house and works for privileges is a necessity, especially when you have a high energy, working breed like a Jack Russell Terrier.  I’m happy to report, Jack bolts no more!  He earns his freedom!

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