We survived the first week. I hope that once I settle in and get a little more stamina worked up that I do a better job of keeping up with the blog. I will, but it has been so long since I have had a job that involves much other than sitting on my ass in front of a computer all day, once I get home I am completely wiped and writing about my exhausting day hasnt been the first thing on my mind.
I have been getting up early to make the 45-minute commute South to work to arrive by 8. I pack my lunch, my coffee and the dogs’ foodstuffs and trundle everyone into the car. Luckily we seem to be going the opposite way of traffic, so at least that’s not looking to be a regular issue.
Forest and Diego go straight into small dog day care for the first 2/3rds of the day where they seem to be not too miserable. Unless like on Thursday, I end up sitting in the same room with them crate training another dog, which sends them spiraling into separation misery for the rest of the day. Out of sight, out of mind apparently, but if I am too present, they make poor Luann’s life difficult. They’ll settle in. I hope. We are trying to find an appropriate resting place for them in the afternoons, and as of Friday they are being crated in the training building office. It didnt go great that day, but again, hopefully they figure out the flow and no one will ask me to leave due to my yappy dogs!
I have been working with the head trainer on pretty much a little bit of everything. Their clients really run the whole gamut–day care dogs, short and long term boarding, two- and four-week “boot camp” dogs, and privates, both in-home and at the facility. Last week I dealt with a huge range of dogs–rescue Goldens, BCs and Aussies learning manners and general house rules, a young 180lb Great Dane that is the biggest canine drama queen I have ever seen, a gaggle of four spoiled, incredibly sharky pugs (ouch!!!), a Chessie puppy that is seriously OUT of control (his owners dropped him off for 4-week boot camp and acted like they couldnt leave fast enough), and a silly, smart but mad-as-a-march hare Aussie/BC/Chow mix.
I knew that Laurie and Wags did rescue and behavioral training, but I really didnt realize the scope of it. Maybe its not unusual, I dont really have much of a frame of reference, but the vast majority of dogs in their in-house training program are rescues, reactive dogs, or a combination of the two.
It is slightly overwhelming to be honest, but at the same time, that is exactly where a huge part of my interest lies. And, if the first week is any indication, it seems there is no shortage of reactive dogs out there with owners who are desperate to fix the problem. What is probably going to prove the most fascinating will be the never ending parade of dog-owner pairs, and reading the balance between where the reactivity comes from. I have already seen some instances where it is clearly the owners’ fault for not properly socializing or setting boundaries, but on the other hand, there are other dogs whose personalities are so intense that I don’t think 99.9% of the dog-owning population could handle them. Myself included.
So, it already has been a monumental learning experience. I am trying to absorb as much as I can. As I’ve already mentioned, its exhausting, but I am enjoying being on my feet for most of the day, and the mental challenge of having to switch gears for each and every dog. Every one is different and I am learning the “types” I like. I have already found myself having to check my impatience–one really soft dog would not sit at the door for me, even after I tried to wait her out for almost ten minutes. We got through it, but it was not the high point of my week. We also took dogs offsite to a high-distraction park for training, and it took me a few sessions with different dogs to figure out why I was failing at connecting with any of them… Stay off the grass, ask for small behaviors, quit on a high note when they start to burn out even if only after ten minutes.
So much to talk about and figure out on my own. This post is very rambling, I hope I can figure out a way to sift through the challenges and experiences. Also I am considering an offshoot blog to keep this one agility-focused and on topic. But, until I get into the groove and my energy levels sort themselves out, here I will stay.
Quickly on the agility front, I do have the awesome, awesome luxury of being able to sneak into the usually-empty training room at lunch or after work for some play time on my own. AND, we found the Magic Robot—aka the Manners Minder. Lets just say it was a hit. Diego bows down to the wonders of Robot. I will have to get a photo of him genuflecting to its glory—it is quite hilarious. Also, we trialed last weekend—I almost forgot as it was overshadowed by work—it went okay. Actually it went fine. Forest was happy and connected with me the whole time. We had some more weave issues, but I never lost him, no weirdness or shut downs or wandering brain fades. We did have one absolutely perfect Standard run, which Q’ed us into Excellent Standard. Eek.
Enough rambling, I will try to post more in an effort to avoid these massive brain dumps. Week two begins…