My husband wants to know what "crazywalking" is. He looked it up online and could not find anything. Is that something you invented?
Hi, Tracy, your husband did some good sleuthing there. He's right: "crazywalking" is a term invented for Edgar's story, but it is not an invented training practice. The idea was taken from an experience I had in the early 1990s in a puppy training class at the local Humane Society. The teacher assigned the following homework: Find an open space, she said, and walk in a triangle of about a dozen paces per side for five minutes. We were not to correct the pups, but simply to hold the lead and march clockwise from point to point, making abrupt turns. Periodically, we were to reverse course and head counterclockwise. Of course, as soon as I tried this, my pup would bound away after something (anything) that caught her attention, only to discover that her human partner was heading elsewhere.
To my amazement, after a few minutes my pup began to heel alongside me, having gotten the idea that I might just be worth paying attention to. I hadn't said a single word—actions were speaking far more loudly. Over time, I modified the exercise to go in a zigzag path, which kept it interesting for us both. When it came to writing Edgar's story, I made this kind of random, unpredictable walking one of the cornerstone exercises for the Sawtelle dogs. Because it was so simple, it was naturally something Edgar might do to help out, even as a child. One day the word "crazywalking" showed up on the page, from who knows where. I liked that it was an invented word, and I kept it. In my imagination (this is not specified in the book), Edgar was the person to coin the term.
By the way, I do still do some version of that simple exercise with my dog, Lola, though she is 7 years old. It's a great warm-up before we go for long walks.