Makena had such a big day I had to share it with everyone. Folks who have been around a while know she’s my fear-aggressive one, and know I’ve worked with her for years. For you newer folks, she was literally the GS (yes, a rescue) who would see a dog from a block away and be up on her hind legs, barking and growling like Cujo!! She was scary. We’ve been training hard for an NW2 (Nosework) trial this Sat (send us lots of good thoughts, everyone!). We had just done some searches outdoors on some church grounds, then proceeded down the block to a huge park where we did several more searches. At 4:00 every day, a dog group gathers and walks dogs together. I used to walk a Golden there daily, but they just moved out of state. I know all the people and dogs, they’re all a great bunch, really calm social dogs. We’ve (meaning Makena) met one of the people and dogs before (meaning, a 14 yr old Aussie) – we were there one very quiet Sunday, and gradually got closer, then finally walked together, and she did beautifully. We (Rosie's mom and I) joked that she (Makena) probably figured heck, if Rosie got wild, she could take her. I saw Rosie and her ‘mom’ approaching and thought hmmm, well, we’ll see how Makena does, and if she can't handle it, then we'll just go home, no big deal. Some days lots of people show up, and some days not. It's not a 'formal' group, just a bunch of people who started walking their dogs every afternoon together around the same time at the park. So - up walked Rosie, the old Aussie. I think she remembered her, and seemed fine with her. Then a couple others walked up - she stayed calm, so we just hung out. We didn't approach, but she was fine - we just stayed about 5 feet away -- she used to need about a football field!!! There was only one “small” incident – and in hindsight, it may have been my fault, tho I’ll never know for sure, and even if I had it to do over again, I’m not sure I’d do things differently. One dog walker showed up with two dogs, one on a regular leash, and one she walks on a flexi-leash (I hate those things!). She had just gotten there, and was watching something going on and not watching the one dog (who is an adorable boy, a Y.Lab/Bassett mix, very sweet), who just came trotting up to Makena. I suddenly saw him (cuz I was was watching lots, from lots of directions too) and was behind Makena, so couldn’t see her face, I just saw her body tighten up, right in the few seconds it took for him to come trotting over – she can’t handle dogs approaching that fast, especially with dogs now coming from all directions like they were, too much to watch for her. Because I knew her past behavior (SNARK! LUNGE!) and he was literally within inches of her nose, I *gently* pulled back on her leash, right as I yelled to the dogwalker (who then realized what happened, cuz she knows Makena). They touched noses (or it was within an inch) as I pulled back, and right then she growled a Rrrrrr, and both dogs were pulled back and away – I told her “no worries” in a really happy voice (it’s what I always say to her) and told her what a good girl she was, and it was over for her immediately, no stomping around, no bad mood, nothing – she shook it off and that was that. And – the best part, we started walking and within a couple minutes, she had pulled me toward that dog and within a few minutes, was definitely sniffing all the bushes he had marked, and within 15-20 min, they traded butt sniffs and eventually had a good meeting. I knew after that, that most likely, I caused the “Grrrr” but knowing her past, I wouldn’t have risked letting her lunge and possibly strike out at him. He was just moving too quickly *for her*. She needs …. slow meetings, sir. But he did approach with the happiest, slack-jawed, lolling tongue, look on his face – so she may have known way more than I did. They ended up walking together for quite a bit. We walked with the group for a little over an hour (MUCH closer that 5’ at times)- and at some point she approached 3 of the dogs (at different times) and met them briefly!! I was SOOOO proud of her! She seemed very relaxed and happy - and seemed to have a really good time. This almost made me cry! So - we're gonna try this again some time. I’m hoping to be able to take her once or twice a week. The dogs in the group are all very social, and very calm nice dogs - so it was perfect for her. So glad I decided to give it a try. She was so tired when we got home – not so much from the walking, as we don’t walk real fast, it’s more of a social gathering both for the people and the dogs, and some of the dogs are old, so we walk more at their pace. We walked for a while, but we walk slowly, the dogs take loads of sniff time, some don't walk fast, etc - it was the searching and the walking with other dogs that really wore her out. Just had to tell people who would “get it”. At one point, she was pretty much in the middle of the bunch - I kept looking around thinking ... omd, this is Makena!! Yes, the dogs were 3 or 4 feet from her (people were being respectful and not letting their dogs get in her face), but all in all, pretty close - it looked like a normal bunch walking together - not like a bunch avoiding one dog like the plague, keeping a HUGE space around her. My girl walked with the dog group. MY GIRL WALKED WITH THE DOG GROUP!!! If you had told me 5 years ago that this would even be possible, I would have thought you were joking. I know a huge part of it was because *she knew* I wasn’t going to ask her to meet any of these dogs. Everything she did was because she chose to do it. Everything she’s done all along is because she’s chosen to do it. We built a relationship on trust, it’s taken a long time, but she knows I’ll never ask her to meet another dog unless she wants to – and each dog she met was because she wanted to – and it all went well. My girl walked with the dog group!!! WOW!!!!