Monday, April 25, 2011

Great Weekend!

I had an awesome weekend with the dogs! Several amazing things happened. First we had a playdate with the MNDDC. I parked at the wrong end of the field at first, but decided to use that opportunity to work with Elo a bit. There were a bunch of guys playing ultimate frisbee off to our left and a dog playing frisbee WAAAAY off in the distance. I was armed with hot dogs and let Elo run on a long line a bit at first. He seems to do better in a new environment if he can check it out "off leash" a bit first and blow off a little steam. First of all, the ultimate guys were NO problem! He didn't pay them one bit of attention! A couple glances at the dog down the field, but not even a little over threshold. We didn't even bother to do LAT. We worked some LLW and obedience and then I decided to see how close we could get to the dog. At the point the dog was lying down with its owner and some of the club members were working throwing. Elo walked nicely most of the way down the field. When he started to get a little over-aroused we'd just turn around and walk the other way for a minute until he settled. Ultimately, we got within 30 yards of the dog who was even standing up and walking a little bit. There were other dogs not visible but barking and whining. Elo said hi to everyone! And the best part--he was genuinely relaxed and comfortable the whole time. I was not in crisis-management mode at all! I could not believe how well he did with ALL of it. Thinking back to this dog when I first brought him home--he barked at everything!! I could not take him out to potty near a lightly-trafficked road because he'd be constantly watching for cars and lunging at them when he saw them. Birds/planes flying overhead, people walking, little critters, dogs that were just specks in the distance. Everything was a trigger for him. He has come SO far and I am so proud of him!!

Jun is playing REALLY well so far this season. We have no routine to speak of. I scrapped everything at the end of last season and we are just kinda jamming right now. But she is into it, and that's cool! I should probably put together a routine soon, since we have our first comp coming up in the middle of May. But I am really enjoying not pressuring her and just jamming. I'd rather focus on our distance game, since that's what we're both good at, and let freestyle fall where it may. Her toss and fetch has been better. We spent a lot of the winter working on dropping the disc and she is dropping better now. Not perfect, but a lot faster.

Behavior-wise, Jun was a wreck this weekend, for the most part. Spring has been a bit much for her. There are people outside all the time and every time we step out the door she is on hyper-alert, whipping her head back and forth looking for the scary people. She could barely see my neighbor, across the alley, through the slats of our privacy fence, but it was too much for her. The people two blocks down who were just specs in the distance were too much for her. Since it was finally nice out yesterday, we started doing RP outside. She stayed on her mat the whole time, flopped a hip, and somewhat relaxed here and there, but was still looking around anxiously. I've decided we need to start doing her counter-conditioning work in our own yard, and took her out front on leash to hang out for a bit and people-watch. On a whim I took her mat with, had her lie down, and sat down next to her. I was not prepared for what happened next. My dog RELAXED!! Like, truly relaxed. For a whole 15 minutes! Granted, we only saw two people. She was a little concerned about the first one, the second one was no big deal. The rest of the time she just chilled on her mat, looking around calmly, just taking in the sights and smells of the day, enjoying the sunshine. I was floored. I don't think she has ever been that relaxed in her life, and certainly not in our front yard with me sitting down next to her. I had hot dogs, but she wasn't bugging me for them. She wasn't offering behaviors. She was just . . .chilling. I have no idea what got into her, but I hope it gets into her more often!!

Friday, April 15, 2011

Meet Helen

And no, she's not staying. And yes, I know that's what I said the last time, but it's true this time. She is a foster for Border Collie Rescue of MN, but her foster home went out of town for the week so she's staying with me.

They told me she was blind, so I was all like "Cool, she can stay with me for the week! We can do blind!" They did not tell me she was severely mentally handicapped. She is extremely fearful. She does not like to be touched. She especially despises being carried, and flails and scratches the whole time. Which is unfortunate, because she currently lives in my basement and since she doesn't know how to walk up stairs her options are being carried or dragged. I feel like the former is more humane.

She doesn't know how to walk on a leash, or even, really in a straight line, so a bit of dragging is inevitable here. Her MO is tweaking out as soon as you set her down somewhere, just kind of walking in circles aimlessly, not even circles, really, just kind of pin-balling around in a small area in complete confusion. She doesn't respond to my voice, though she is supposedly not deaf. After tweaking out for awhile she will lay down. If I try to come near her or touch her she starts tweaking out again.

She doesn't really know how to eat. I tried to give her a piece of cheese last night. She was clearly interested in it. She sniffed around for it, sort of, and eventually found it, but then didn't know what to do with it. She kind of mashed it with her lips, but wouldn't open her mouth. She likes her food, but I imagine tries to eat it in the same way, without opening her mouth, because she spills most of it out of her bowl. Apparently she is quite persistent, as I guess she does usually finish eating it. This morning, most of it had been scattered about her crate, so we'll see how much she actually got into her stomach. She drinks water the same way. She doesn't use her tongue--just kind of gums at it.

And she's not really housetrained, of course, most of the time not knowing where she is. And since she doesn't seem to understand even praise I don't know how you'd ever housetrain her.

Poor girl was dumped in a shelter. Not sure what the rest of her life will hold, but at the least, warmth, good food, clean water, a soft bed, and love.