Although Zachary has been a happy, excited guy, he's definitely had an edge to him since we left NJ. So much so that one of the other mom's noticed how much more at ease he seemed today. BTW, the moms that I've had the chance to meet here are just lovely! Everyone is so nice and pleasant to be with. :) Anyway, It seems that some of the anxiety about Elfie and Twinkie he was trying to manage has decreased now that Twinkie is a constant; he's no longer concerned that she'll be here and gone the next day. Knowing the important people in his life are not leaving him and will be there, figuratively, "tomorrow" is very important to Zachary; it's also a major source of anxiety for him. The only time he became anxious today during training was after he came back from the store with Joe and found that Twinkie was not with me or in her kennel. She went out to potty, but he did not know that. You could see the sense of relief come over him when someone brought her back to her kennel.
Twinkie was excited to see Zachary as Joe helped him get her out of her kennel when we arrived at 4 Paws this morning; the feeling was mutual for Zachary! :) It's incredibly important for Twinkie to see Zachary as a 150% positive part of her life at this stage of the bonding period. She should ONLY associate him with good things; he would never correct her or "work" her as he is not the handler. They are BFF...period. So, when Zachary does things like let Twinkie out of the kennel, gives her super-fun toys and feeds her yummy, special treats, she can only see him as the kid that makes all good things happen for her. Why wouldnt she want to be around this kid??!! Let's be completely honest, at the end of the day, I'd be your best friend, too, if you fed me Oreos every time I saw you. Everybody has a price! LOL
After a few minutes of playtime with Zachary, Round Two, the re"match" begins. Joe couldn't wait to watch an adorable, fluffy little Golden Retriever, dig her paws in and work ME over the next few hours. His on-going support just takes my breath away! LOL All of today was spent on obedience and class discussion. This gave Twinkie and I a lot of time to work together. Today we worked on the commands sit, down and heel. We also worked on distraction which is giving the "down" command and presenting the dog different levels of distractions such as food, toys and personal interaction to see if they'd maintain the down position or break the command. Some of the things used as a distraction are food, random items such as Legos and markers, balls and toys. The purpose behind this exercise is to ensure they understand that regardless of what's happening around them, the expectation is that they will not get up or move regardless of what's tempting them. Would you want a service dog running out from under my table to eat a french fry that fell off your plate?? As with people, dogs are more interested in one thing than another. Twinkie was a lot more tempted by toys than food...there's a shocker from our playful pup! Food definitely caught her attention, but it was the ball and squeaky toy that made her want to get up. By some grace of God, Twinkie did not break the command...a proud moment for us, indeed! :)
Unlike yesterday, Twinkie was a little more receptive to me as the handler, and even more so as the day went on. This will continue as she becomes used to us and how we handle her. She definitely pushed the limits today and continued to spit out treats at times if they were not up to her standard...still a little stinker! :) Having said that, Twinkie definitely worked more with me today than against me like yesterday. Once we got back to the hotel, we practiced down and heel. She was great and only required minor corrections. She's definitely less distracted and was more apt to follow my command once we were outside of 4 Paws. As Twinkie would veer a bit off course while I was working her today, Jeremy mentioned several times that Twinkie was "a tough little girl". No truer words spoken today!