My baby girl turned 6 months old on the 22nd, and it looks like we are getting into the "ignoring your recall command when I want to do something else" stage which gave me the most anxiety-inducing experience of my life yesterday.
She has a wonderful recall. Always comes back. For the past month or so I've been letting her off-leash in a field with trails down by the river near our apartment that is far from roads, cars, other people and dogs, etc. She gets zoomies and loves to jump and run in circles through the tall grass - she has the time of her life! I bring high value treats and we train recall, I never leash her up after I call her, I always "catch" her before putting the leash on. We've been doing this almost every day for a month. Everything is great, right?
Well, yesterday she was running through the field when I noticed she was very interested in something. I call her back, and she doesn't even look up at me. That's weird. Next thing I know she has something large, black, and furry in her mouth and is BOLTING back down the trail the way we came. She speeds past me and I see what she has...a dead possum (opposum)!!!!
I frantically sprint after her calling all sorts of commands - her name, come, drop it, here, sit, down, until I cant run anymore, my voice is shot, tears are streaming down my face, and she's completely out of sight. Luckily, once I got back up to civilization a few men told me that they saw her running up towards my apartment building with something in her mouth (down sidewalks of busy city streets, but luckily the way home doesn't include crossing any streets!).
I finally reach our block, where I see her proudly sitting in front of our apartment door with the possum in her mouth. A neighbor was laughing hysterically and taking photos of her. When I got there, he said that she kept trying to give him her "prize". She was wagging her tail and looking at me like "what took you so long to get home, momma?!" I leash her up, ask her to drop it, and head inside where we celebrated her safe return. Animal control came and collected the evidence of our adventure, after I took a few pictures of course.
She has lost her off-leash privileges, don't worry! I feel absolutely terrible to put her in danger like that and I've never been so scared or upset in my life. However, part of me is proud of the fact that she ran over a mile with an animal the size of a cat in her mouth and 1) knew how to get home, and 2) had a soft mouth and didn't damage the animal at all. She is my very first dog, so I'm not sure if either of these are typical behaviors, but she is very special to us and turning out to be quite feisty.
Pictures of the possum available upon request...