Sunday, June 10, 2012

DAY FIVE (Saturday): Keeping track

Today we continued to work on obedience in the morning and the rest of the day was mostly about tracking.  Our morning track with Twinkie was successful, although she was a little confused at first since it was just Zachary and I laying the track this time.....Sarah was not with us.  Part of the learning curve for Twinkie is beginning to discriminate between other people's scent and Zachary's.  She showed confusion for the first half of the track, but once Twinkie clearly picked up Zachary's scent, Joe said she was on it and found us....which really means she found her hot dog and orange tenny.  :)  Tracking comes down to practice makes perfect which is why we do it every single day, and the trainers want us to practice short tracks at the hotel at night.  The more Twinkie is exposed to just Zachary's scent, the more confident and accurate her tracks will become.  

Jeremy gave a more in-depth discussion and instruction about tracking after lunch. As always, you learn so much from Jeremy!!  He's been a professional dog trainer for a long time, and it shows!!  It's amazing that people like me and you can walk into 4 Paws without any experience in search and rescue and actually be able to find your child with relative easy by time it's all over.  That's what makes him so good at what he does.  And, patient...Lord is this man patient.  :)    Everything Jeremy talks about makes complete sense, is super interesting to listen to and looks good on paper, but boy oh boy is there A LOT to understand, remember and actually do once you're behind the lead with your dog.  It can be as overwhelming as it is exciting.  Tomorrow we'll be going to the mall and doing an indoor track.  Stay tuned...

The nose that KNOWS!!

Our major accomplishment of the day was taking Twinkie to Applebee's for lunch with us!  The first thing Zachary asked when we told him we were going there for lunch was if Twinkie could come with him.  :)  After the little body shaking incident from breakfast, I had a plan, and it went well.  Since Twinkie doesn't love her new harness which needs to be used for public access, she shakes A LOT especially when it first goes on.  She also pouts and makes us work harder for her attention and responses!  She's a piece of work for sure!  LOL This harness is fairly new, so Twinkie is still breaking it in which is making her shake more frequently.  I followed Jennifer's advice, which was to place some pressure on Twinkie's shoulders when she stands up to prevent her from shaking.  What I did not realize at breakfast time is that Jennifer meant to continue holding your hand on her shoulders until you EXIT the area where people were eating.  Ooooops!! There's a huge learning curve to taking your dog out in the community, and we're still learning!

Twinkie was a champ and a half at Applebee's!  We made sure it wasn't crowded for our first experience.  She followed the "under" command which tells her to go under the table and lay down.  Once Twinkie was under the table, she didn't move other than to readjust her hips.   We were there for an hour, and she wound up sleeping nearly the entire time.  It was a very calm and peaceful lunch.  It was as if she wasn't there which is exactly what how you want it to be.  No one knew Twinkie was there but our server because I let him know what we were doing in the event this did not work out as we had hoped.  :)    He told Twinkie how beautiful she was, and she, of course, accepted this compliment as a statement of fact versus kindness!  LOL  Zachary loved that she was with him.  He kept peeking under the table to make sure she was there.  Zachary has always liked a great deal of sensory input through his feet, so he took off his Crocs and rested his feet on her back.  This not only keeps his body grounded, but he likes how it feels when he rubs his feet on Twinkie's fur; it's all very calming to his sensory system.
The only way I can explain taking Twinkie into a restaurant like this is taking your baby out for the first time.  We were watching every single thing Twinkie was doing.  We were  keeping track of the time and everything else we were doing so we knew what worked and did not work for the next time we attempt something like this.  Even getting ready to leave the restaurant was like packing up your baby for the first time!  

The moral of this story is that whether you're working out in the community,  training at 4 Paws or tracking with your child, there's a ton of stuff you have to keep track of, and it's exhausting.  It's all 100% necessary to you and your dog's success, but it's enough to make you cry sometimes....and I'm getting there!  :)

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