I’m out of town for a few days. The next morning the alarm rings and I’m still groggy but I’ve got that hair appointment I didn’t get to last week, and Stitch is invited. Argh. I haven’t touched her in a week and now we’re going to a place she’s never been before where she has to behave pretty darn well. I’m NOT looking forward to this.
She’s excited when she realizes that she’s going somewhere. I stuff her breakfast in every nook and cranny of my clothing. She sits to have her collar slipped on and walks very nicely on a loose leash to the car, then jumps into the car while I’m getting her soft crate into position, back out, and into the crate. So far so good.
She’s normal until she gets out of the car. Wow, city sidewalk! Her country bumpkin jaw is hanging down. There’s construction nearby with lots of banging and air nailers and a big tarp flapping in the breeze. She bumps the end of the leash maybe 10 times in half a block, and she’s MUCH too busy gawking to be able to eat anything. Still, the leash errors ARE just bumps, not yanks or pulls, and she understands that she’s walking with me – or sometimes under me – rather than behind me or back in the car. She’s not secure, but it really appears to be a bumpkin-gawking situation rather than a fear problem.
She drops to the ground when she realizes I’m going up 10 steps to the front door. I go down and offer her a handful of kibble. She decides it might be time for some breakfast and immediately feels good enough to attempt the stairs. They’re very difficult stairs – totally carpeted, wide and shallow. A blind Chihuahua wouldn’t have trouble with them, I don’t know what made her think she couldn’t handle them, but with a dozen kibbles under her belt, she hops right up.
Another bumpkin moment in the waiting room, but they’re all dog lovers here and I’m handing out kibble to people as fast as I can. Pretty soon she’s flossing teeth and washing chins for everyone in the building. Finally everyone goes about their business and she settles down beside my chair with a loose lead and watches the world go by. Everyone is amazed at how well behaved she is (yes, ESPECIALLY me!). She walks back to the car on a loose lead and bops up into her crate.
On the way home we stop at the vet’s for some pills for Scuba – a place she already knows she likes. I couldn’t have asked for a better outing.
For supper we do some retrieving. We start with taking it from my hand and holding it while I hold it and let go. I try handing it to her when she’s a little way away from me and having her bring it back to me, but this doesn’t click with her. She stands and looks at me, holding the dumbbell. When she decides to come to me, she spits out to the dumbbell to walk.
I try tossing the dumbbell 5′ away from me. NOW it makes sense. With no more discussion, she runs out, picks it up, brings it back, and holds it while I reach slowly for it. She doesn’t release it until I click.
I toss it here and there and way over THERE and she runs to get it and brings it back. After about 5 reps, she starts giving me a very nice Front with a sit and holding the DB until I click. Lovely.
I ask her to retrieve a canvas bumper with a rope attached, but that REALLY doesn’t make sense to her. I settle for doing some plain holds with the rope. I get a tiny tug that could be turned into a good pull later, but for now I ignore it and just click the hold.
It occurred to me while I was away that I haven’t done any more Comes with her than the easy stuff in the Levels, and that her Come is about the only thing that I’m not exceptionally happy with. She almost always comes, but always with a look in her eye that says she’s made a DECISION to come. I want her to just COME and be glad when she arrives.
All day I’ve been using up the remains of her breakfast that I didn’t use at the hairdresser. I wait until she’s busy rummaging in the bedroom or some other place she doesn’t need to be, then call her and give her a handful. So simple an exercise. By the third call, she’s tripping over herself to get to me faster than she did last time. No more thinking, just coming. I’m happy.