22 Weeks 6 Days- Out and About

Dec 15, 2004 | Stitch's Story

She’s been invited to the hairdresser -mine, not hers. My car has been in the shop for over a week now, and I’m driving a loaner. We set out late morning with her breakfast in my pocket. She sits to have her collar put on. She walks on a loose lead out to the car, hops in, moves to the floor on the passenger’s side, and lies down. Holy shamoly. Who’s small person is this?

Miss No-Tolerance-For-Boredom rides politely most of the way into the city, when the heater fan starts squealing loudly. She sits up, pulls her ears back, looks around, and starts her stress whining, but doesn’t leave the floor. It’ll take me a few seconds to figure out how to turn the fan off, so instead I toss her a handful of kibble. “Oh,” she says, “the heater fan squeals and I get kibble. Cool.” And that’s the end of that potential difficulty.

I have to get some money, so we drive through the ATM at the bank. ATM is out of order, but I’ve already rolled down the window. When I roll it back up, it pops out of its socket and hangs drunkenly on the side of the car. And I still need money. I park to go into the bank. I’m thinking about the window, and Stitch follows me out into the parking lot when I get out of the car. ARGH. Call puppy, she comes back, ask her to get back in the car, she does. Gently close the car door so as not to kill the window, go into bank and get money. Stitch sits politely looking through the large hole.

So now I have money to get my hair cut, but realize I can’t drive there with this drunken window, so I call in and reschedule, then drive across the street to the car fixing place. Stitch walks politely in on a loose lead. It’s time to teach her to greet people by sitting, but she doesn’t know that yet, so she cheerfully greets everyone she can get to by jumping up and trying to slobber on their glasses. Comes off when I ask her to, and we sit down in the waiting room. She lies down when I ask her to. It would be a good opportunity to practise Lie-Down-And-Shut-Up, but we practise positions instead – Sit, Down, Stand.

Then she spots the TV. Our TV is way above her head. This one is at puppy level. She’s taken aback by the talking heads, so we do a little watch-TV-get-kibble, and in a minute she’s thinking about other things, so we do some Go To Mat on her leash. Then the loaner’s ready and we walk out on a lovely loose lead, hop in the car, and drive home. When we walk in the door, she turns and sits to have her collar removed. WHAT a wonderful morning!

When we get home I’ve still got half her breakfast, so we work on 101 with her milk carton. I can’t say she does anything totally inventive, but she’s happy to see it and trying hard to think of new things. Once I leave her a bit too long between clicks and she lies down, sighs, and puts her head on her paws, but I just sit looking at the carton. 10 seconds later she gets up and turns toward it – click for reengaging, and she’s back into the game. Another time I see her about to quit, but she startles and goes back to it, click for that, too.

She comes to me in the evening and fusses at me – whining, the odd yap, pawing. Obviously she’s ready for supper. I ignore her. Eventually she gets up on the couch beside me and settles for a cuddle.

When *I* am ready to feed her, we work on 101 again – this time with a wooden stool. I decide that I was unkind to say she wasn’t particularly inventive. Next to Scuba, she’s not that inventive, but Scuba’s been playing this game for 9 years. Stitch started this week. She immediately knows what the stool is doing on the floor in front of my chair. She targets it with nose and paw, both paws, mouths it, runs around it in both directions. She sticks her muzzle between various rungs. She stands up with her front paws on it. When I don’t click the fifth time she offers a behaviour, she doesn’t quit, but thinks of something else to offer. After a while I start clicking only if the stool moves. Pretty soon she pulls it over and has to deke out of the way. This might frighten her, but it doesn’t, she goes right back to moving it. She can move it by pulling it, by pushing it, and by rolling it over.

I haven’t counted out any kibbles this time, so I count each one as I give it to her. 240 in a meal. I decide I don’t like counting them as I give them to her, it makes me think about counting and not about training or about how great this small person is. I like it better when I count them out ahead of time, or use handfuls – 8 handfuls in a meal, 30 kibbles per handful, 3 sets of ten per handful. THAT is useful information for me as a trainer which doesn’t take my attention away from the dog and the training conversation.