Shyla and I were out on the trails before sunrise, in the quiet of the early morning.
Shyla and I took a long hike to a spot where I wanted to put a trail camera. We tramped all over a hillside, examining the animal tracks and choosing the very best spot. I pulled the camera out of my lumbar pack, and, to my utter dismay, it wasn't working. So, I carried it back home to fix it. Ugh - I guess that we'll be repeating that snowy and dark hike sometime soon.
On our way back up the steep hillside, slipping and sliding in the snow, the sun peeked over the ridge toward us. A flash of red captured my attention. It was the remnant of a shrub that bloomed last summer. Its red bark is peeling off, and the sun set it ablaze.
After we'd hiked back up into the sunlight, we did some training. We've been doing some remedial tricks this week - ones that I'd "taught" her before the whole "osteosarcoma, bone infection, or maybe an ulnar fracture" drama. I was so distracted by her health that I totally forgot about the fun tricks that I'd been teaching her.
So, today, I reminded Shyla about her "relax" cue. It took about 10 minutes of work for her to put all the parts together again. But, after those 10 minutes, she was snoozing on her side in the snow (I'm astounded that I somehow taught her to close her eyes for this trick by capturing it with a clicker - and she was smart enough to realize that I was clicking for eye closing).
You all gave me so many good suggestions for tricks to teach Shyla in your comments the other day, aside from the normal "obedience" things that we're already working on. I plan to put together a list that I post and then try to check off one trick at a time. I'm very excited about it! It'll be fun to practice more clicker training and to build my bond with Shyla through fun training games.
Shyla is perhaps the most easily trainable dog who I've known in my life. It is so fun to watch her figure out what I'm asking. My trainer keeps commenting on how much Shyla seems to love working for me. Indeed, Shyla uses her "tricks" to distract herself when she's in "scary" situations in town. As a loud bus goes by, she might start poking my shoe with her nose or intensely making eye contact with me. Both of those are things that I've trained her to do in the quiet of our home - and she freely "offers" them in intense situations.
It's the start of a journey, a new journey with a new soul.