Gracie has the right idea with the sun today (Saturday):
She’s enjoying it while she can, ’cause all evidence so far is that we’re gonna get a reasonable amount of snow the next couple days and we’re going to be inside without a sunbeam in sight. Leelu and Gracie (known as “the girls”) and I took a couple nice long walks today since exercise is going to be sparse after Sunday morning, I suspect. The grocery shopping is done and I have plenty of treats for the pups, and lots of work for them to do inside the next couple days.
Leelu’s new behavior modification program is underway and she’s doing very well so far. We’re working with someone well-qualified to help her (and me!) and I’m very excited about having a road map to work from and about how well Leelu is responding so far. After the two scary episodes in early January and the difficulties on the Prozac, she is the calm AFTER the storm right now, and that is most welcome. Even Leelu seems relieved that she is calm and relaxed. The Carprofen seems to be doing a good job of keeping her pain controlled, and the house is quiet. One of the nicest changes is that Leelu doesn’t seem to feel she has to shadow me all day. She’s rarely been away from me since she got here six months ago, even sleeping against the front door when I’m out of the house. Lately she’s stopped sleeping in front of the door, and she takes multiple opportunities during each day to just go up to the office, where her bed is, and chill on her own. I never mind her being with me, but I’m very excited to see her get more independent and comfortable making some of her own decisions.
Gracie, on the other hand, is having to put up with my sometimes feeble efforts to train her using the assignments from the dog training course I’m taking. Which occasionally results in her barking her command bark at me when I’m not doing well enough as trainer. (Which means we have to stop and take a break so I don’t frustrate her overly!) One of the exercises is to capture a natural behavior – licking – and I thought this would be pretty easy. I was wrong. Usually training Gracie isn’t terribly difficult, but I haven’t been doing a good job of clicking at the right time or keeping sessions short enough and who knows what else, and she wasn’t understanding that I was trying to reward the lip lick. I took myself back to the beginning with only a dozen treats in my hand and sessions no longer than 1 minute, tried to be very accurate in my clicking, and we are finally making progress. This afternoon she finally starting doing the lip lick not only after eating a treat but she’s volunteering an extra big lick after the small ones from eating because she knows it will get her another click and treat, so we’re just about ready to add a verbal cue to the trick. Phew.
The dog training class is definitely hard work, but I’m enjoying learning new things. The next exercises are shaping ones – breaking a behavior into tiny pieces and building them little by little until you get the final behavior. We’re to teach the dog (Gracie in this case) to do a head dip (think Snoopy’s hanging head in Peanuts), then to Go To Bed (get on a mat or bed and lie down) which won’t be hard since she already knows that one. <g> The last one is to teach her to get in a box and lie down. I’ll need to find a box first, and I don’t think that one will be so easy. We’ll see. It will give us stuff to do while we’re stuck inside for awhile. These kinds of mental exercises are just as tiring as the physical ones that we won’t be doing so much of. Gracie is being a good sport about all of this so far…we’ll see how far her patience with me extends!
That’s the report from the pre-storm front. I got myself a Ninja Foodi for Christmas so we’re going to be cooking fun stuff the next few days, training the dogs, reading books, watching TV and watching the snow fall, with some shoveling in there for a little break. Marley’s going to start on a new jigsaw puzzle that doesn’t have cover art, so you don’t know what it’s going to be — it is a puzzle that, once assembled, solves a mystery. I may help him with the edge pieces, but beyond that, I’m a lot like Gracie getting frustrated with me when I’m not training well. Too hard!
For all who have been or will be in the path of these storms, stay warm and safe! Think Spring.