9Jul

Training Days 5 & 6 – Getting Reacquainted

As much as I had been looking forward to my three-week trip to California, I also felt reluctant to go. It seemed I was just starting to make a connection with Rocky, and then I left. Would I have to start all over again?

My first day back with her was on June 28. We were joined in class by the big Mastiff, Danu, and a new little herding dog named Fling, there for her first day of class. (It’s funny; training is just like going to a dog park. I’m learning the names of all the dogs, but not, so far, the names of the handlers. It’s impossible not to learn the dog names, as every command starts with the name: “Fling, sit.” “Danu, stay.” “Rocky, come.” You get the picture.

We started off as always with sits, the most basic command, then worked on sit/stays and down/stays, now up to 10 seconds. Danu was having a “I don’t really want to pay attention to my handler” day, so Jared, our trainer, was assisting with some stern corrections. Add that to the fact that Rocky looked at Jared the entire time we were in the room, and I was getting a little frustrated. It was as if I wasn’t even at the other end of the leash.

However, I knew this was mostly because I had been away, and she  hadn’t seen me. It was a case of “Who are you again?” On top of that, I was feeling a bit “whooshy,” which is my short-hand way of saying I was weak and kind of on the edge of having a paralysis attack – which I did not want to happen. (Not that my preferences have ever mattered in the least.) To make matters worse, I had forgotten both my cane and my bottle of water.

As we moved on to other commands, Jared had me take Rocky into the adjoining training room, so there would be fewer distractions. I worked on straight line heels, where I say, “Heel,” lead off with the left foot, step one step, then stop, and Rocky is supposed to sit at my side. We also practiced “Comes,” where I stand in front of her, step back to the end of a loose leash with her in a sit position, say her name to get her attention, and BEFORE she moves, say, “Come,” and she is supposed to come and sit at my feet. Rocky was doing great on these two exercises – except every time Jared would poke his head in the room, she would do her “sit” backwards, facing him instead of me. Gaw!

Finally, it was the end of class, and we returned to the main room for our last exercise, the extended down/stay, where we stand next to our dogs for about 10 minutes. Sabrina looked at me and said, “Are you OK? Do you need a chair?””  I mumbled, “I’m fine.” The woman working with Fling said, “Are you just saying that?” To which I had to honestly answer, “Uh, yeah,” as I started to wobble. The kennel assistant, Laurie, and Sabrina both grabbed a chair and brought it to me. I guess it’s not as easy to hide what’s going on as I sometimes think.

On July 1, I returned to training, and Jared asked right away how I was doing. I happily reported I was feeling stronger. I found we were working with Fling again. Her handler immediately said, “You look better today!”

We increased our time on sit/stays and down/stays to one minute, and again worked on name/come commands and straight line heels. By the end of the class, I felt I had made that connection again, and Rocky was working beautifully with me. Jared said he would keep us in the Obedience One group for another week or two, then bump us up to Obedience Two. That means we’ll start moving out into the world, beginning our access training, getting used to people, elevators, electronic doors, cars – all those things a dog is not exposed to when training in a kennel.

Even more importantly, Rocky will start coming home with me soon, first for overnight visits, then longer stays, and eventually for good.

Blanket Buddies-smOne of my favorite parts about these nights is this – whenever we enter the training room, Rocky runs up to give Ripley a nose kiss. Usually during the training session, I don’t use treats as a reward, except at the very end for new tasks. This drives Ripley crazy, because she is so food oriented. Why is that other dog getting little cookies? So as soon as we finish, I walk Rocky over to where Ripley is sitting, next to Sabrina, and give Ripley the “down” command, then reward her with a treat. Rocky always lies down, too, right next to Ripley. Double treat. That’s the way the evening ends – Rocky and Ripley side by side on Ripley’s blanket, with Rocky’s tail wagging madly.

**If you are enjoying these posts about the adventures of Rocky and Ripley, I have a favor to ask of you. Please click on the Calendar/Date icon on the top of the page to open this individual post. Once you have done that, a number of options will appear at the bottom of the page. You can “like” the post, add a comment, check the box below the comment box that says, “Notify me of new posts by email,” or share this post with others via your favorite social media outlet – Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Pinterest, or email. Thanks so much for reading, and dog kisses from Rocky and Ripley!

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18 comments

  1. I can’t wait to meet Rocky. Keep the blog posts coming!

  2. Barbara Ann Yoder

    Love your posts, Michelle. So glad Rocky will be coming home soon. Love the photo of Rocky and Ripley on Ripley’s blanket. xoxox

  3. Loving the blog!

  4. Andrew and I love reading about the adventures of Ripley. Even better wwe have Rocky to read about now too!

  5. So great to read what’s going on in your universe! Also learning so much. Thanks!

  6. Michelle, I love hearing about Ripley and Rocky and enjoy your writing immensely. Looking forward to the next “chapter”.

    • Shari, you are such a faithful reader, and I love hearing from you. Thanks for taking the extra time to post a comment directly on the blog. Always good to see your happy face on Facebook – and now here too!

  7. annette pierson

    Such a heart-full blog. I love your stories of Ripley and look forward to ‘getting to know’ Rocky. And I love that she is giving Ripley nose kisses!!

  8. Happy to hear the news.

  9. Michelle, I so enjoy your blogs.

    • Bev, you’re the best! Thanks for commenting here on the blog. Here’s the thing – I am actually hoping to turn this entire thing into a book at some point…and would like to use blog readership to help support my future book proposal. So you are an important part of that!!

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