Yesterday morning, we were on the trails just after sunrise, catching some of the gorgeous light of the dawn of a new day.
We lingered in the area where the sunrise views are the best. It's rare for us to be out that early - so summertime sunrises are something to be treasured.
After sunrise, because I was going to take Shyla into town for a training class, we biked/ran extra far, with the hope that it would "take the edge off" Shyla's tensions in town through exercise. During our ride, Shyla found some wet areas to cool off, as you can see!
Then, we headed home, to get ready for training class. Here was Shyla's thought on the trip to town.
During class, Shyla seemed much better than she's been over the past couple of weeks. Our class consisted of walking politely around shopping areas in town and even going into some shops.
We did specific skill training in the midst of it all (e.g., heel, wait, sit-stay). The other people and dogs in the class were SO nice to Shyla that it made her very comfortable with the potentially scary situations.
After class, I needed to do a couple of errands at dog-friendly places. I tried to make them as fast as possible, to keep the stress down for Shyla. Shyla went into the stores with me because it's too hot to leave her in the car in the summer. By the end of it all, Shyla was definitely tired but she was still acting reasonably confident.
Then, when we arrived home, Shyla started having diarrhea. And, it has continued. Poor girl - she must have been stressed out on the inside even though she seemed pretty good on the outside when we were in town.
Despite that, I still put yesterday's class in the success column. She wasn't skittish for most of the time, and she wanted to meet new people. Both of those are good things.
I have a hypothesis that the sudden onset of heat in town (3000' lower in elevation than our home) was the factor that made town much scarier for Shyla. I think that Shyla was barely staying below her stress threshold in town when the weather was nice and cool. Then, one more stressor, the shocking heat hit (it really is shocking, like a furnace blast, when you come down from the mountains into town). I think that the heat is why Shyla now cannot handle bustle of town as well.
In the training world, this is referred to as "stacking stressors". For example, when in the safety of our home, Shyla can now meet almost anyone with little fear. However, when she has the stress of being in town, she hesitates to meet some people out of fear. Thus, "stacking" the stress of town and the stress of meeting a stranger together can be too much for her while either one alone would be okay. Another example is that, if there's loud construction noise nearby when we're in town, Shyla suddenly becomes afraid of certain objects that look odd to her, like statues, due to "stacking" scary noise and unusual objects.
I'm learning so much from Shyla, and I'll keep letting her (and my trainer) be my teachers. For a while, I'll try to make her town visits be on cooler days or to spots where she can swim, hoping to bring back all of that hard-won confidence that she had before summer hit so hard.
Up here in the mountains, summer isn't hot, and the flowers are absolutely glorious. Maybe Shyla is onto something - we should be hermits who never leave our slice of mountain paradise!