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Wednesday, September 2, 2009

A clearing view and K goes to class

The smoke screen began to dissipate yesterday evening. The pup duo and I hiked up to a lookout point, one that I've been avoiding for months because I associate it with our departed S. I gazed at a mountain view that was gorgeous in a ghostly way. Moreover, I felt a hint of happiness at my memories of S visiting this spot, rather than solely sadness. Perhaps we'll start visiting this quiet lookout point more frequently now.
This morning, I arose before the sun, an event that only occurs when the days are short. K and I rolled out for a mountain bike ride just as the sun peeked over the horizon.Looking east from our local peak, I saw a hazy but gorgeous sight.And, to the west, the mountains had returned from their 'vacation' hiding behind the smoke. The purple hue partly reflected the colorful sunrise but also hinted that remnants of the smoky haze remained.
K and I enjoyed the early morning quiet and solitude on the trails. We rolled along peacefully, plunging from pockets of warm air to cold air, as we rolled from ridges to gulches.

We reveled in the deep green aspen groves, knowing that the leaves will change and fall soon.After riding, I took K to an advanced drop-in training class down in the city. I thought that her fears had dissipated to a level that would allow her to learn. But, I doubted my assessment while we were still in the driveway, and she repeatedly refused to jump into our vehicle. We have two 4Runners, and I was using my husband's for today. Subtle differences in the set-up of the seats and some cargo seemed to cause K to freak out. I acted like Temple Grandin, looking at the vehicle entrance from K's viewpoint and trying to 'fix' things that might be scaring her. Finally, after a bunch of seemingly small changes, she made the leap. But, given that simply getting out the driveway was an ordeal, I wondered if going to class was a good idea.

It turned out to be fine. Most of the dogs were younger than a year old, and K behaved confidently in the group, almost like an elder statesdog. She initiated interactions with the other dogs and acted bold. I was amazed. We've had many classes where she's hovered next to me, avoiding dog interactions, during playtime.Moreover, she was able to focus on me and follow my cues. Distance work is always hardest when she's underconfident but her stays remained solid even when I walked away. The one tell-tale sign of nervousness was that when I asked her to switch between down, sit, and stand from a distance of 15 yards or so, she'd sneak a step or two toward me each time during the transitions. That's no big deal given how fearful she was just recently.

I captured a photo of our friend Lilly, obsessing over a squirrel, but still holding her down-stay!


  1. What beautiful skies over the mountains. Glad things went well at class.

  2. As a sunrise person, I love the morning pictures. It is my favorite time of day. So new. So fresh.

  3. Those pink-tinged skies are gorgeous! Glad the haze has mostly lifted for you. It's so much better here today too - hiked and didn't mind the smoke. Glad K did so well during training - your work with her plus the meds are helping her confidence.

  4. How fun to come here and unexpectedly see a picture of Lilly! I'm glad that class went well, after you got past your driveway! B starts her new class tomorrow night. As far as I know, she doesn't know any of the dogs in the class, so I'm a little nervous about how it will go!

  5. Oooooo, that last photo is PRICELESS! You can just feel how tense her body is and how much she'd love to pop - just like a spring!

  6. Hi Kb

    I love the first shot in the early morning before the day has begun...

    How did you know that K had the health issues originally?

    Happy day

  7. i love the reference to Temple Grandin, she is fascinating! love the views and look forward to the fall colors...
    thx for the dog food recipe, not sure if i'll ever get around to it...awfully busy lately..:)

  8. Ha! I saw you shoot that photo of Lilly when she was on Squirrel Watch. How fun to see her here.

    I thought about it on today's walk, and here is the thing: While Lilly is holding to the letter of the law (by not breaking her down stay), I'd have to say she is NOT adhering to the spirit of the law since I'm confident if I'd asked for a WATCH ME or a LET'S GO, she would not have complied.

    However, for those who follow our saga too, I allow such prey targeting because it can be the only time Lilly is not fearful in public.

    And, honestly, she *is* showing extreme self-control by not chasing after the squirrels.

  9. NCMountainWoman, ThunderingHerd, and Barb: I love the pink skies just like all of you do. The smoke was good for something but I'm glad that it's gone.

    Dog_Geek: I actually rethought my approach to K's fearful period after reading some of your posts. Your posts convinced me, after some thought, that it would be better not to let K 'practice' being scared by putting her in scary situations when she's in a 'state'. So far, her rebound has been much faster than usual so perhaps it helped! Hope that B did well today!

    Delwyn: My vet identified K's thyroid problems. I had no idea on my own. K suddenly got three separate bacterial infections, none serious, at the same time. Simultaneously, she became super fearful. My vet immediately guessed that a thyroid problem was the underlying cause of all of those things. She was right!

    Roxanne: There aren't many dogs in the world who are well enough trained to resist a temptation as strong as that squirrel was for Lilly. I'm serious - Lilly was doing a great job.

    Scout 'n Freyja: I agree about Lilly's body tension - like a spring ready to pop! That's why I took the photo!


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