Carol Collett

Dog Training: Not For The Faint Of Heart

Dog training.

Fun?

Frustrating?

Exciting?

Maddening?

Joyous?

Exhausting?

All of the above?

Yes, and then some. 

I’ll be honest. After Monday night’s Reactive Rover class with Jade I was ready to give up, ready to admit I suck at dog training, ready to shout to the world that I’ll never have another dog training success. 

Jade didn’t do anything awful. The trainer treated Jade and me with kindness and patience. But Monday night I realized just how badly I misread Jade the past two and a half years that we’ve had her. I had no idea how afraid of new situations she is. None. 

How did I fail her this badly? Will she be able to overcome the ways I’ve mishandled her and her situation? 

But then came Tuesday evening.

After work Daniel and I took her to a large grassy area in a shopping center near our house. Just to get her out. To get her to a new place. To start trying to help her regain some confidence. 

Yeah, she was afraid, but she explored. Slowly her tail came up. She didn’t want to stay long, but she did it. 

She’s doing great with her mat work, too. Will she come out of her shell in class when we resume September 1? I don’t know. 

But what I do know is that I will do everything I can to help her. And if she never enjoys new places that’s okay. The couch is always hers for as long as she lives. 

Out of the Mouth of my Very Smart Husband

Saturday Daniel took me to watch an agility trial after we got our hair cut and ate breakfast. He’s nice that way. Does stuff I enjoy just because I enjoy it. But that’s another post.

I’m not sure how long we were there watching the dogs and their handlers run agility courses, but it seemed like only a minute. Probably closer to two hours. I could have stayed all day. There’s nothing like watching dog and handler teams working together.

But what Daniel said to me on the way home stopped me and left me speechless. Which he will tell you seldom, if ever, happens.

He said, “You need to do that.”

I replied, “Do what?”

“Learn to work with dogs,” he explained.

“Well, I’m trying to learn,” I said.

He turned to look at me and uttered the words that made me speechless, the words I haven’t been able to get out of my mind since Saturday afternoon.

“No, I mean you need to work with dogs. It’s been a long time since I’ve seen you that passionate about something. You were sitting up on the edge of your seat completely involved in what was going on.”

Wow.

He’s right. I love working with dogs. I would love to be able to do what those dog/handler teams do.

So I think I will.

Rant Tempered By Grace

So this morning I posted on Facebook that my friends should prepare for a rant coming later today. But I have lots of praying friends who must have prayed for me, because now that I sit down to rant, I find that rant tempered by no small amount of Grace that certainly doesn’t come from my heart.

We have neighbors. Neighbors who have an unaltered female dog who had puppies a couple of months ago. She has one puppy left. I think they sold the others.

This dog is not leash trained. At all. Although the man who lives in the home can handle her. Sort of. The woman, not so much.

The dog, Brandy, has never been aggressive toward people, that I’m aware of. She has never barked at our dogs when we’ve been out walking them. Although we don’t walk on her side of the street if they have her out.

But Brandy hates cats, it seems.

This morning, when the woman had 60-70 pound Brandy on a flexi-lead, the dog got loose, ran to our porch where our mostly feral cat was eating breakfast. She attacked the cat. The woman finally got her under control, managing to get her back across the street into the garage.

The cat ran off. I have no idea if he’s injured. There’s no blood on the porch or sidewalk that I could see.

The woman came back over, tears streaming down her face, and apologized. She said she would pay for damages. I explained I don’t care about the broken flower pots and trampled plants. I just worried about our cat.

I realize that’s the risk of caring for feral cats. I do. I also realize that any one of our dogs can pull away from the leash at any time.

But this family has made no efforts to train this dog. They have bred her, probably hoping to make money from her. And they use a flexi-lead on a very strong, large dog.

Do I think I could call my Jack back to me if he got loose from me and decided to herd the deer that were in the field this morning. No, I doubt I could.

So I’m trying to be forgiving. I’m trying to extend grace to this woman.

And I’m praying our little feral cat who’s managed to survive 10 years is okay and not laying somewhere injured and in pain.

Grace.

I need it.

Nose Work, Food Puzzles, and Clicker Training Update

Watching dogs solve problems using their noses and hunting skills amazes me. I’m not sure why. Maybe it’s because humans can’t do it? Whatever the reason, that moment when a dog gets on scent is unmistakable. Then watching as he narrows down the area until he pinpoints source odor. Just nothing like it.

If you think bomb or drug sniffing dogs are no big deal, go watch a scenting dog work. You absolutely will change your mind. The level of trust the handler places in that dog-wow! 

Food puzzles are fun too. Introduced Damon to food puzzles tonight. He figured it out quicker than Jack or Jade did. Although since I don’t know his past, maybe he has seen them before. 

Jade loves food puzzles. She dances when I get them out and start loading them. It’s kind of funny to see a 70 pound German Shepherd mix jumping up and down for a food puzzle. 

Still just doing some very basic name response work with the clicker with all three. All three are very resposive to the clicker. 

Tomorrow, back to Damon’s work for CGC test. 

Cutting the Cable Television Cord

As of 1030 central time we cut the cable TV cord. Not only will this save us about $80 per month it shortens the list of excuses we both make for not doing other, more important things. 

Yes, we will still watch TV. I bought a digital antenna from Amazon for about $25 so we still get our local channels. We have a Smart TV which gives us simple access to multiple streaming sources. We both have tablets.

But we are now forced to narrow our viewing focus. Instead of channel surfing, we must now be a little more intentional about our viewing. 

And, yes, I do understand we’re both adults and could have chosen to do this while still paying Comcast almost $1000 per year for cable TV. But we didn’t. So now we must. 

We tried this experiment a few years ago. We both got so much more done. But we missed our local programming too much. Especially during football season. But with this digital antenna we can watch some football without the time killer of all those other channels. 

 

Tell Me Your Name

So after several days of “loading the clicker” (click-treat, wait a beat or two, click-treat, repeat 20 times) with the dogs, it’s time to work on name recognition. Yes, they all three know their names. But the problem is that they choose when to acknowledge their names. 

Time for that to change. 

From page 33 of Jane Killion’s WHEN PIGS FLY! TRAINING SUCCESS WITH IMPOSSIBLE DOGS: While the dog is looking at you, say his name, click and treat.

Will start this today and go for a week. 

Goal? When I say their names they should look at me. 

Blueprint For Change

Perhaps knowing on September 16 I will turn fifty years old triggered something in my psyche. Perhaps realizing over half my life expectancy is gone, and I have not truly pursued the dreams of my twenties brought on this angst. Perhaps I’m in the throes of a midlife crisis. 

Whatever. 

I’m done with what if. I’m done with panicking over the thought of lying on my deathbed crying for the lost daydreams of my youth.

Time to figure out what I want out of the rest of my life and do it. 

First big step-get out of the day job. It’s killing me by millimeters. So it’s gotta go. Or rather I’ve gotta go. I’m giving myself a year to find another way to make a living. A way that feeds me instead of depletes me. 

First day-to-day step-further develop a healthy lifestyle. Lose this last 20-30 pounds. Find an exercise routine I enjoy that doesn’t include running. (My back just won’t let me run.) Come out as an essential oil user. Chronicle how essential oils help me recover my health. 

Take the sentiment below to heart. This is my new motto.

Blueprint For Change

Middle Age and Erik Erikson

Sigh….

Sigh….

Really, really big sigh….

This is so hard to write, but I need to vent. 

Middle Aged. Mid-life. According to Dictionary.com middle aged means “being of the age intermediate between youth and old age, roughly between 45 and 65.” 

According to Erik Erikson I’m smack in the middle of the Generativity VS Stagnation stage of adulthood. There’s only one stage left after this one. Crap.

I’m 49.

I’m middle aged.

Blech.

Double, triple, infinity blech.

Can we rename this stage of life, please? Something pleasant or fun sounding? I vote for Empty Nest Rocker Chick.

Two events this year brought home to me what I kind of already knew, but didn’t want to face-I am well past my physical peak. My body is in slow decline. Or maybe not so slow in some ways. 

Those two events? My annual eye exam in January and an acute visit to my primary care doctor to talk about my continued back pain. 

First event: January-my eye doctor told me I have cataracts forming in both eyes. I guess my chin suddenly hitting the ground and the tears welling in my eyes made her quickly add, “It’s no big deal. It happens to all of us.” Granted, they’re just beginning. Will probably be years before I have to have surgery to remove them. But…but…

BUT I’M ONLY 49 YEARS OLD!!!!

Second event: Thursday-met with Dr. P about my back. I’ve shed over 60 pounds. Eat healthy most days. Have a lipid profile, blood pressure, and resting heart rate that, sold on the black market, would make me a wealthy woman. So what did Dr. P tell me that hurt so much. No. More. Running. 

WHAT??????

NO. MORE. RUNNING…NO. MORE. RUNNING…

He might as well have punched me in the gut. With a brick.

I think I’m dealing better with the cataracts than the no more running thing. Cataracts can be removed. But the no more running thing, man that hits me deep in the core of who I am. 

I. AM. ONLY. 49. YEARS. OLD.

How do I deal with this? Haven’t figured that out yet, but I will own it like an Empty Nest Rocker Chick.

Middle Age and Erik Erikson can bite me.

 

 

 

Project Turn the Garage into a Dog Training Area Phase 1

image

Here’s the before photo. Here’s what I’m up against. Sigh.
Tonight I’m putting both bicycles and the lawnmower on the curb with a sign that they are free for the taking.
It’s a start.

Less Whiny Follow Up

After whining yesterday and most of today I decided to stop. Seriously, whining not only sounds stupid, it solves nothing. Instead I’m going to list a few things to work on so that a year from now I will not be stuck in the same whiny head space I’m in now. Fair? 

1) Get back to consistent Nose Work training at home. (Get back to Nose Work class this spring.)

2) Seriously work on Jade’s reactivity to other dogs so that next year we can foster.

3) Do an intro to agility class with Jack to see if we both really want to do it.

4) Seriously ramp up my chainmaille skills with an eye toward craft shows the second half of the year.

5) Figure out if my back will let me continue running or if I need to find another exercise. This one truly, truly, seriously sucks, but I have to face the reality that my back may never get better. And if this is as good as it’s going to get, the pounding of running is not a good thing. I do not want to deal with this, but I have to, and it really pisses me off. 

6) Start the process of starting a shelter Nose Work program at MACC if management there is agreeable.

So, first step of #1-clean out the garage so I have a reasonable space to train Nose Work. Will begin that tomorrow. 

Accountability? Yeah, need that. So, every Monday I’ll report in. 

And no whining allowed.

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