We continue to move forward with Hachi's training a teeny bit at a time. Since I last wrote an update about him, he has learned to target our trainer's hand and to play the bucket game in an exam room at the vet hospital.
With our trainer, we took advantage of a gorgeous warm day to work entirely outdoors. We started with a warm up walk on the driveway during which our trainer was handing Hachi treats as he walked behind her. Then, we moved to our deck where our trainer played the treat-retreat game with him. This is a game that they've played many times in the past. Over the past few weeks, our trainer has begun sticking her arm out to the side with her palm towards Hachi just before she tosses him a treat. The goal of this was to get him used to her making extraneous movements and to eventually have him touch his nose to her palm. At a particularly relaxed moment in the game, our trainer interjected the cue "touch" which told Hachi to touch his nose to her hand. He did it, and she gave him a treat. They repeated this several times. Hachi being relaxed enough to touch her hand was a concrete step forward!
In that same week, the Runner and I took Hachi to the vet hospital. We had reserved an exam room so that we could get him comfortable in there without being rushed. After he was acclimated to the outside of the vet hospital while wearing his muzzle, we walked him into the exam room. Unexpectedly, there were a lot of excited and happy high-pitched voices coming from the direction of the waiting room. The voices scared Hachi. He reacted by lunging toward the door and making scary barking sounds. We distracted him from the noises by feeding him almost continuous treats. He quickly calmed down and more thoughtfully listened to the voices. In that phase, we gave him treats whenever he looked toward us. After about seven minutes of simply listening and being rewarded with treats, Hachi was ready for a short bucket game. He did very well to focus on the game rather than the noises of the vet hospital. After that success, we quickly headed for the car so we could end on a good note.
For Hachi, these were big steps forward. I must emphasize that we know that this would be very slow progress for a normal dog. However, for our Hachi, it was cause for celebration. A big part of learning to rehab Hachi has been accepting that we need to move at his pace. I no longer focus on the end goal. Rather, I focus on the process and giving Hachi a good life. The goal of having a vet be able to examine him is important but I drive myself crazy if that is all that I focus on.
Because my right arm is in a sling after shoulder surgery, I dictated this. I tried to catch the mistakes but I seem to miss some funny ones every time. Also, I cannot hold a camera so the photos are from a little while ago. I am doing my best to keep moving forward despite not being able to use my right arm or hand.