Thursday, January 31, 2013

Brilliant Idea!

Well... At least today, I remember what I did! Kind of hard to forget, what with all the bleeding.

Oh, boohoo. Suck it up, wimp.

You see, today is very windy. I love strong winds, they make me happy and energized. My sleep deprived state notwithstanding, it had that same effect today. So Monster and I went for a wonderful walk, enjoying the weather and my good mood. Trees were bending, dry grass was rustling, and dead leaves were blowing around us. And that was the problem. Because as we were almost home again, two leaves came rolling down the road toward us, and struck with the funniest idea ever!!!  I pointed to them as they got close and told Monster (who was a leash length ahead of me) to "get them!" He looked at me for a split second with this "What, really?" look on his face - during which time the leaves drew level with him, and then blew past us both continuing down the road behind me - and then he went for them...

Well? You told me to!

The fact that he was a leash length ahead of me while the leaves were behind me meant he got a very good starting distance before my leash put up any resistance, and also that I got completely spun around. And pulled off my feet. And dragged along the asphalt. My hand slipped out of the leash handle, and I lay there stunned on the road watching Monster run and bounce down the road chasing the leaves - as indeed I had told him to do... It took me a couple of seconds to realize the problem we were in (traffic!), and then I panicked so badly my throat nearly closed up. But I did manage to try to recall him, fairly certain that it would be useless with him so excited, in full chase, and by then pretty far away. But when I called he stopped instantly, turned around and (with a quick glance back at the escaping leaves) came running back to me! He's such a good boy!

Yes I am, and don't you forget it.

So. All's well that ends well, right? Right. Apart from me looking like I did back when I got roller skates for my tenth birthday and decided to try them out on a hill along a gravel road. Road rash, I believe the term is? It feels great, let me tell you...

Don't feel sorry for her, she's making me do all the work now!

Still, it could have gone so much worse. There may be something to the claims that insomnia causes impaired judgment, don't you think?

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Power Switch Set To "Off"...

I' so tired. I've been sleep deprived before (I've had trouble sleeping my entire life, as has most of my family) but this is a new low. I'm physically exhausted, moving at all is almost ridiculously hard. Lifting a cup of tea is heavy, like you wouldn't believe... And, naturally, I'm confused. No, beyond confused. I'm dangerously disoriented. I've just come in from a two hour walk with Monster, and as I'm taking my shoes off and looking at the mud I realize I have no idea where we've been. I can't remember. I don't know if we've met anyone, I don't know if we've done any training, and I've no idea how Monster has behaved on the walk. I assume I'd remember if something bad had happened (and I'd expect to see a bad meeting still showing in Monster's stress levels now, but he's calmly dozing), but still... This is bad.

If things don't pick back up soon, I'm going to have to try to get some help. Because really, not knowing where I've been and what I've done doesn't sound very good... Not even to me, and I'm too tired to think straight after all.

Just watch me and do what I do!

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Today's Cloud

On the same walk as the one mentioned in the sunshine post, we also met a woman. She was sort of hiding behind a car, staring at Monster and looked kind of stiff. Most likely she was afraid of him, unfortunately. Monster sort of fixated on her right away, but he also managed to keep a decent heel position, give me eye contact, and take treats. But as we were level with her he did a sort of jump in her direction... It honestly wasn't particularly bad by Monster standards, it was just one quick lunge and he had no difficulty following me as we walked away. He didn't bark, snap, or growl, or do anything threatening like that. But as I got the impression that woman was afraid of us even before he did anything, I really felt bad about it anyway...

Afraid of me?! But I'm super cute! Plus, she was the scary one, lurking and staring like that...

I may be focusing on the wrong thing - after all it's pretty good to be able to walk past her at all. But some days it really wears on you to have a dog who's reactive to people too.

Today's Sunshine

Today Monster and I left the yard for a walk and were immediately faced with a man with a dog. They were about 20m away from us, and Monster didn't lunge or growl! He did tense up a bit, and he did tighten the leash. He also wasn't interested in treats. But he didn't show aggression (apart from tensing and staring), and when I walked on (diagonally from the others) and encouraged him to come with just a "this way" he followed right away. He did look back at the other dog - and the man, presumably - a couple of times, but he was fairly loose in his body and he sniffed the ground and generally didn't fixate. I say: awesome!

Awesome is a good word. It's not enough to describe me, but it's at least a decent start.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Snow Monster

So. I was... err... I've been in North Korea. And in prison. Also, the moon! So, you know... No internet. Plus! My hands fell off. Yeah, that's it.

You don't doubt Mom, do you...?

We're doing sort of OK. We were doing better for a little while, but of course that couldn't continue and so a dog guarding its yard ran out into the road and attacked Monster as we were passing by. That sucked. And set us back in training, just a teensy bit...

I did not like that dog. Was I supposed to like that dog? Cause I didn't...
But let's not focus on that! (Believe me, I've spent far too much time obsessing over it already.) Instead, let's look at a happy Monster! I've been reading a bit about enrichment - giving dogs an outlet for natural behaviors, like digging and tearing things to pieces for example - and thinking I really need to pick up some slack in that area. However, I'm really bad at it. I find it difficult to not look at a "useful" side of it too - not that I don't think making Monster happy and letting him be a dog is useless exactly. I just... Look, I can't do it. There's the truth. I want to. I even think I am doing it. And then I take another look and realize I've made it something different... For instance, I've scraped together what little snow we have into a pile - intending it for Monster's digging pleasure. But can I just let him go nuts on it? Nooooo... Instead, I make it an item search game as well - finding and retrieving placed items (I'm sure this has a name in English but I don't seem to know it) in the snow. Now, it's not wrong - Monster still gets to dig and he loves searching too, so really I just made it even better. Right? But taking a look at it, the reason for doing it this way is because nose work and searching is somehow a legitimate activity, whereas doing something just for Monster (meaning has no practical application in for example dog sports) I somehow seem to view as a time waster.


Yeah. Realizing you've got a problem is the first step to fixing it, right? Because this needs some work, clearly. Anyway, he really does love doing it! Take a look:

(Yes, I'm aware that the "retrieve" part is pretty much nonexistent. He's actually pretty good at that normally. I've got no idea why it just wouldn't work when I was filming...)