I'm a big fan of Gentle Leaders. As a dog walking tool, I really haven’t found a better alternative. They are far more humane than pinch collars or choke chains. If you’re not familiar with Gentle Leaders, they are essentially a head harness that give you control of a dog in a similar way that a rider controls a horse. People sometimes mistake them for a muzzle, but they do not restrict the dog’s mouth, and are far more comfortable than the collars I've mentioned.
I started using a Gentle Leader with Brodi, who weighed well over a hundred pounds. He was all muscle, strong, and stubborn as a mule when he decided he didn’t want to do something. When we added Sunny to our lives and I was faced walking two strong, willful, hundred pound dogs, I used the Gentle Leader, too. It should be no surprise that I have started using one with Kassi. She’s been pretty good on a leash, and we’ve taken her out leashed since day one, so the transition was just a matter of getting her accustomed to the feel of the Gentle Leader, and walking alongside Sunny. What seemed like a big challenge was made easier with experience and the right tool.
The weather over the weekend was perfect, and we went out for our first big walk. Kassi fell in beside Sunny really well (the blue harness helped keep them together, but after two walks, she didn't need it any longer), and proved what I have thought from that beginning that she was going to be a natural walker. There’s still a lot to learn, and trust me, the moment when I realized that I had two ridgebacks back on the leash and I was walking my old path was a bittersweet moment, but it was an easier transition than I had expected.
Tools that have worked for us in the past keep us on the path forward, creatively, or when walking the dogs. It’s natural for me to use character development to propel the plot. I have always believed that plot was just the footprints that a character left behind, but as a mystery writer there has to be an added layer. There has to be that interaction between the reader and writer that borders on a game, or a puzzle given to be solved. Detectives, amateur sleuths, and PIs (private investigators), all have certain traits that are natural to them that automatically advance the plot, but they still need to be original in their own ways. So one tool, can help create the next. Creating the puzzle is never easy, and the writer has to play fair with the reader—give them all of the information they need so they can solve the puzzle just like the main character. One defines the other, and honestly, without the solution of the crime, or a puzzle, a mystery is not a mystery. The puzzle is a tool that has to be used honestly and with care and restraint to move the story, the plot, and the character from the beginning to the end.