Tuesday, June 5, 2012
Day ONE (Tuesday): We met our "match".
So today was THE day......Zachary and I met our respective "match". :) Zachary woke up at 55am stating, "Mommy, I'm awake." (Thank you master of the obvious! LOL) He had some ups and downs and was on edge at times this morning but held it together. This is a really big day for everyone involved; it's an even bigger day for kids like Zachary who don't so easily manage the element of surprise.
We arrived at 4 Paws at 930am. Zachary could not wait to get into that building and find his girl. He found Twinkie's kennel and his world became a better place. It's amazing to see how quickly and easily Zachary's world falls into place at 4 Paws. It's as if he knows that this is one of the few places that he'll be with people who implicitly understand him and won't judge him. I also think Zachary is cognizant enough about the challenges he faces that he KNOWS this is the place that helps him.
So, a little after 10am things got going and the first dog was brought out. Zachary was VERY stressed when he realized Twinkie was no longer in her kennel. She was behind the partition waiting to come out to him, but he didn't want to hear anything about that. He's got so much anxiety about Elfie being gone when we return to NJ that finding Twinkie was "missing" did not make him happy. This little bump in the road didn't result in a meltdown, thank God, but it reinforced the level of anxiety Zachary experiences and why Twinkie will be so good for him. After a few minutes I was able to capitalize on Zachary's distractibility and offer him cookies if he came and sat down to wait! :) Then, much to his delight...Twinkie was the second dog to come out, and Zachary met his "match" for the first time. It's always so exciting and emotional. This was definitely more emotional for me than it was the last two times. Zachary was so happy to meet Twinkie; we were happy (and relieved) to see him so happy. Twinkie is just the cutest thing, and she is such a happy girl! It's interesting to have the perspective of going through this process before. Although it's only been a couple of years, Zachary seemed to appreciate Twinkie in a different way this time around.
Zachary spent a lot of time on the floor with Twinkie patting/hugging her, giving her treats, giving her bone and generally wanting to be involved with her. A lot of this he did independently but was also receptive to anything we asked him to do with Twinkie. I think the highlight for Zachary was that she loved her new Nylabone. Truth be told...seeing Twinkie act like a dog and chew on a bone like a dog was a highlight for Joe and I. After you deal with a non-dog like Elfie for so long, you forget how a real dog actually behaves! LOL The rest of the morning was dedicated to introductions and discussion by the trainers.
We decided to stay at 4 Paws for lunch. We packed lunches and played outside with Twinkie for more than an hour which was awesome! The weather is beautiful in Ohio. Twinkie has a WHOLE lot of energy....all she wanted to do was run and play outside. She loved her new ball. But, oh boy! Goldens clearly need time to run and play; she didn't want to stop! She was a riot. She barked and "growled" and rolled around and played fetch...she's such a real dog! When we went back inside and began the afternoon session, Twinkie definitely started to give me a run for my money. It was at this point that I realized I had just met MY "match". It is important to understand that it wasn't really until this point that I started to put some "formal" obedience into place since I knew it's what I was supposed to do when she wasn't listening. Twinkie was clearly more interested in a playtime free-for-all as opposed to obedience training...and me.
It was game time for Twinkie, and she had no problem letting me know that she was going to try to establish the Alpha role in our relationship. She would "sit" when I would say "down". She would go in a "down" when I would say "sit". She would turn around and walk away when I corrected her and put her back in "place". She would also spit out the treat I gave her if she wasn't pleased with the positive reinforcer I provided her with....what a little stinker! :) When Joe saw me becoming frustrated, he told me it was like dealing with me. I then put him in a "down" and walked away. Anyhoo...Aubrey was so terrified of everything on Day One that she was not up and about and interested in ignoring me or playing with the other dogs; she wanted to sit on my lap and pretend she wasn't really a service dog. Elfie was...well she's just Elfie. So, the concept of Twinkie basically giving me the finger and doing what she wanted to do all the while being the cutest little fur ball on the training floor took me back a step. Don't get me wrong. it's wonderful for a lot of reasons that I've gone through this process before. I certainly understand what I need to do and, more importantly, I understand that Twinkie knows what she needs to do. Having said that, it was a little conflicting and even frustrating many times because I was working Twinkie as if we already knew each other, and we simply do not. She is a new dog with a new personality. In kind, I am a new "leader" and have a new personality. Put these two variables together, and at the end of the day, I'm still at Day One.
I have no doubt in my mind that Twinkie and I will work through this, let's say, "misunderstanding". I just doubt that it'll happen by the end of the day tomorrow! :)
at 6/05/2012 09:27:00 PM