Recently, we met our trainer in town for the first time after month hiatus, our longest break since Shyla arrived a year ago. Before I edited my thoughts, I blurted out to my trainer: "I'm really happy with where Shyla is now. I love her. Some things still scare her but I honestly think that she's generally happy in her world now". That unplanned speech sums up my feelings pretty well.
Even more surprising to me is that she has the courage to take the initiative to meet certain strangers. I never ask or require her to meet anyone so this has been entirely her idea. I haven't figured out all of her criteria for choosing who she wants to meet but, when she picks out someone, she seems to melt their heart in an instant.
Just today, we met two hikers with five off-leash dogs. Shyla used to be terrified of this particular group, both the dogs and the people. Today, she met the dogs in her unassuming way, and then, to everyone's utter surprise, she spontaneously greeted each hiker, sitting nicely in front of them with her tail wagging in fast little arcs. I was thrilled! This was an epic step forward for her.
I haven't shown you any new tricks that I've taught Shyla this summer because we've shifted our focus to agility training. Due to our training, Shyla is comfortable with many agility obstacles now, including the teeter-totter and the weave poles. I've used Susan Garret's shaping methods to teach her the obstacles, and they've worked beautifully. Shyla seems to love BANGING the teeter down really loudly (can you believe that?), which makes me laugh. And, she can navigate 10 weave poles in a row. She's not super fast yet but she's accurate.
She's so intense about agility. She doesn't want to stop when I say it's the end of an agility training session. I never dreamed that I'd see such intense drive in the Shyla who arrived a year ago. When we have a sunny afternoon (a rarity these days), I plan to make an agility video for you so you can see her in action.