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Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Struggles and Successes in Training

We just barely missed actual sunrise this morning. My migraine-preventative medicine makes getting out of bed feel like I'm trying to escape quicksand - a huge frustration for me but it's better than having constant migraines. Fortunately, when we finally burst onto the trails, the sunlight was still soft and reddish. I love that time of the morning.
I keep thinking that maybe, just maybe, we'll get one or two more autumn-like days but Mother Nature has not cooperated. This morning was cold (10°F) with high winds out of the west. Shyla turned her back on them and her hat's toggles aligned with the gusts.
It's funny that this is the only hat that she doesn't act upset about wearing. She's squinting due to the sun in her eyes... but, generally, she doesn't mind this hat. I love how it acts like a wind gauge, aligning with the gusts.
When the wind became too cold, we retreated to the edge of the forest that protected us to some extent. And my girl relaxed on one of her favorite perches.
Our big accomplishment for the morning was making it to Hug Hill, a tough snow bike ascent right now. Thankfully, the wind died down, ever so briefly, while we played up there. The mountains are now fully cloaked in snow and very often have shrouds of winter clouds surrounding them. I guess it is now fully winter.
Going to Hug Hill feels like running a gauntlet these days. We've recently run into some hunting dangers near there so I insist that Shyla stays right next to me as I pedal uphill. She understands "heel" but, since becoming gaining more confidence, she gets tempted away by scents. A big part of our recent training breakthrough was working on "leave it" intensively. Now, as she starts to drift toward a scent (and away from me), an upbeat verbal "leave it" brings her running back to my side. That has solved almost all of the behavioral issues that we struggled with over the summer.

I also noticed that, when I felt that I was losing control of Shyla over the summer, I'd get a panicked or angry tone in my voice. By returning to our trainer's advanced drop-in classes, I've relearned the importance of sounding "fun" to Shyla. She is so sensitive that any stress in my voice makes her less likely to respond to me.
I'm sure that this won't be the last training challenge we'll face because both Shyla and I are constantly changing. Most of all, I'm grateful that her confidence seems to keep on growing!


  1. i like her red stole. :) such a beauty.

  2. You both are gaining confidence! How rewarding it is.

  3. I have to be careful with my tone of voice with Piper, too. She is very sensitive though it isn't always apparent. Sometimes I have to remind myself that this incredibly self-confident and joyous (sometimes to the point of being overbearing and downright pesky) hound was once, many years ago, a timid girl who had a very difficult start in life.
    Thanks for sharing your training thoughts...I often find them relevant to Ms Piper and me :)

  4. Love the hat, she looks great. That's good thing to remember about tone of voice too.

  5. Beautiful photographs. We are having near-record lows for mid-November. Expecting 14 degrees by morning. And the winds are making it feel much colder. But we will almost certainly have some warmer weather. Just not for the next week or two.

  6. Shyla is becoming quite the fashion model with her pretty red muffler and that sweet tasseled hat:)

    Still pretty cold here for this time of year, but the pups love it.

  7. I love the hat and scarf! She's adorable.

  8. You look so adorable in your hat and scarf, Shyla! Stay warm!

  9. You are so pretty and fancy in your hat sweet Shyla!

  10. Hug Hill sounds like a challenge post migraine. Moms got one now. You look like you are all set for the winter weather
    Lily & Edward

  11. Your pictures continue to be beautiful.
    stella rose

  12. That's my favorite hat! I need to find one like that for Blueberry. I wonder if she'd wear it as happily as Shyla?

  13. She doesn't look too impressed with that hat!

  14. "Leave it" is a well used term with my guys, but it mainly pertains to poop eating, and oh, what a losing battle that is!

  15. Sometimes it is hard to remember that all we doggies hear is the tone of voice. It's all blah-blah-blah-blah . . .

    Your pals,

    Murphy & Stanley

  16. Please tell Shyla the hat looks sooo perfect on her,,,, and also her red neck scarf. We think she loves to wear them. And the wind loves to play with the tassels,, we can see because look at the wind catch the tassel!!!!
    Such happiness! Shyla is getting more beautiful every time we see her,, and she just looks so happy.
    We keep hoping your migraines will get under control KB,, we really do.

  17. Shyla is so cute in her hat!! I'm glad Shyla is doing really well with her training. I know how frustrating it can be when they don't always listen.

  18. Remembering to keep the fun in your voice is hard! I'm glad "Leave it" is working so well for y'all.


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