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Carley
carley.jpg
One of her favorite positions

PART II
  Sylvia took Carley to walk at the Y Park the other day and on return reported that a big duck had tried to attack Carley. She said it stood in the middle of the path and wouldn't let them pass. Hissed and spread it's wing. She picked Carley up and retreated. Upon questioning, it turns out it's a Canada goose. I asked if another goose was nearby and she said "yes". I said it was probably a male defending a nearby nest and the other goose was his mate.

 
  A few days later, we took Carley to the park again and about half way around the trail, Sylvia says, "There he is!" pointing to a goose blocking the path. He's hissing and spreading his wings in a threatening manner. I let Carley's leash out and she runs toward him wanting to scare him off (brave hunter that she is). He runs at her and she retreats FAST (coward hunter that she became). I spot his mate on a nest with 4 eggs -- poor planning for a nest (right along the walking trail).
 
  I pick Carley up and decide to walk around them along side the trail -- a trick in itself as the land slopes toward a lake. The goose is hissing, flapping it's wings and in a nasty mood. Sylvia (chicken that she is) has retreated back a few steps and watches in horror as the goose takes flight and attacks me in midair. I run by (admiring his bravery, if not his brains) and proceed down the trail with Carley (tail between her legs and shrunken 2 inches closer to the ground into her "combat retreat" crawl).

  Sylvia has totally retreated and gone in the opposite direction. Carley and I proceed with her hugging the ground, me picking feathers out of my hair and the goose hissing and looking smug. Carley and I reach a wooden bridge over the lake that she usually refuses to cross and has to be carried over. This time (post goose attack) she scurries up the steps, flies across the bridge, stopping only when she reaches a metal grate in the middle (she is terrified to cross this). I pick her up, go over the grate, put her down and she flies to the other side, down the steps and heads away from the "Hannibal" goose. Sylvia catches up with us and says she told me so. We proceed on.
 
  When we get to the ball field, I turn Carley loose so she can romp. I look toward the playground to see if there is a small child that I can borrow to wear out Carley. I spot a small boy (3 or so) with his dad and grandmother (divorced dad, his day with son... I can always spot 'em). Carley spots the boy too and tears off in his direction with me running behind yelling to the dad "She won't hurt him!" I have visions of Carley being dropped kicked by a protective father (flashbacks of the goose dad in my head). Anyway, dad is OK, Carley is in heaven, and "Austin" screams with delight as Carley jumps up and gives him a big, wet lick right on his lips. He chases her; she lets him catch her (she'd die before she'd let Sylvia or I catch her) and they tear around the park. I ask Austin if he wants to take Carley down the slide and we have to chase her for a while until she goes to the dad (anyone, but Sylvia or I). I pick her up and Austin gets on the slide. I feel Carley tense (she remembers the slide), but she goes down with Austin and tears off down the trail leaving the play scene behind. Sylvia and I run after her and wave good-bye. I don't think Carley like the slide anymore. 

PART III
  One afternoon we take Carley for a walk at the Y park or "Carley's Park" as we call it -- she starts scratching at the window when we head in there.  We start out as usual -- Carley tugging at the leash as she's on a mission to scare every squirrel and bird she sees.

  We get around on the path near the goose nest and I notice the daddy in the pond eyeing us. We continue and I notice he is swimming pretty fast for the shoreline.

Before, I timed our passing by the nest correctly, but this time he is faster than usual. We are passing the nest, he has reached shore and dashes up the hill,

Carley drops into her low combat crawl, but it is too late. As she scurries as fast as she can 1" off the ground, he takes flight toward her, land on her back and rides as he tries to bite her head with his toothless bill. She throws him off, I run behind her before he turns on me and Sylvia has long ago retreated and gone in reverse.

  We approach the bridge of terror and Carley shoots across stopping at the metal grid. I walk over it and say to her, "He's coming!" and she flies across it without a paw landing. We get to the other side and she is off before me, we sit on the steps and wait on her chicken hearted mother. She arrives mumbling, "I told ya'll not to go that way," and we continue on down the path. It takes Carley several minutes to regain her natural height and we finish the walk with her about normal.

PART IV
  One evening, Carley got out. Ran past Sylvia when she opened a door. She yells for me and I said, "Let her go, she's just jerking you around." Well, she had to go looking -- and Carley kept running further and further as she saw Sylvia getting closer. Sylvia came back, mad, but still worried. I said Carley knew where she lived and would come back. Sylvia was afraid she's get picked up (likely as she'll go to anyone, but us) and stolen. Also, she has no sense about traffic. So, I say I know where she went and we can take the car and go after her. The apt. complex is large. I drive down where I saw her go and there she is. Sylvia gets out and starts walking toward her. I drive the car up to block her. She runs pass us both. I chase her by car, Sylvia on foot. We think we have her trapped, she shoots by, laughing.

  Sylvia gets in the car, disgusted. We drive on to see if she will follow -- NO WAY. Sylvia spots a man walking toward us. She goes up and asks if he'll catch the dog as she'll come to anyone, but us. He goes up and spots her, calls her and she is a little hesitant (saw Sylvia talking to him), but can't contain herself and runs up to him. He picks her up and walks back to his wife who does crazy over the "sweet puppy." I correct her, "The Puppy From Hell." The man is laughing about me trying to herd her with a car and Sylvia running on foot and Carley easily escaping. We put her in the car and drive off waving to the couple who are still laughing and the man saying to her, "I can't believe it." Sylvia threatens Carley about being on a short leash for "the rest of her life" and I mutter, "The next time the fucker is on her own!" Carley looks at us like we're nuts, but I notice a smirk.

PART V
  We head out for another walk at Carley's Park. She is happy as usual and heads out to scare birds and squirrels. As we round the big pond, we see a Mallard couple with a bunch of very new babies. There is also a Canada goose couple with two new babies swimming along. I have the thought that this is Father goose and that he and his new family have been moved in order to stop law suits from innocent walker at the "Y."

  We continue our walk and as we approach the smaller pond, I look across and don't see any geese. No geese swimming, so my suspects are correct. Carley is hesitant at this point, but with a few tugs continues. We near the creek cross over and Carley is lagging behind. She usually leads and crosses first. I feel a tug on the leash and tell Sylvia to cross first as Carley usually follows her -- she doesn't. I cross and feel dead weight on the leash. Looking back, I see Carley sitting on her bottom while being dragged along in a cloud of dust. Sylvia goes backs and picks her up and says we should go back. I tell her Carley needs to learn that it's safe now. I take Carley and carry her toward the dreaded spot where the nest once was. Her heart is pounding, she is switching her gaze like a tennis spectator from the pond to the nest site and back again. I tell her they are gone and walk thru the area. As we get close to the bridge, I put her down and she is in a hurry to leave the area, She hops on the bridge, scoots across, stops at the metal grate and as I approach, I say, "He's coming" and she shoots across to the other side.

  I think the days of carrying her across the bridge have ended.

PART VI
I took Carley walking today as Sylvia was not feeling well and sat in the car instead of joining us. Carley was her usual self, pulling me along the trail as she forged ahead. She was in the lead unless she ran off the trail to scare some little creature that quickly got away.
 
As we neared the gooseless side of the small pond, she lagged behind and swung way out to the side off the trail making it clear that she did not want to continue in this direction. I told her repeatedly that the geese were gone, but she didn't believe it and had decided to avoid this area for the rest of her life.
 
As we neared the creek cross over, she did not want to cross. I got her started with a tug and when she was almost pulled into the water, she crossed. I shortened the leash and told her that it was OK. She did not believe me. As we approached the "dreaded goose" area of the path, she was panting (hyperventilating?), wide eyed and considering an anxiety attack. I stopped and sat down, pulled her close, petted her and said no one was there. We went a little further and I stopped again and she barely tolerated my explanations before heading off as fast as she could. She approached the "Bridge of Terror" without missing a beat, jumped up and flew to the other side to safety.
 
I discovered an important therapeutic paradigm: Bridge phobias can be completely eliminated by introducing a phobia of geese (whether they are present or not).