Aaand… I’m down for the count

Feb 2, 2018 | Serra's Story

And the very next day I went to an appointment in town, slipped on frozen rain, and arrived at emergency 90 minutes later with no idea how I got there. Which was followed by 2 weeks lying very still in a dark room, followed by 3 weeks of walking very slowly and sleeping for 19 hours a day. And I’m not allowed to drive for another 5 weeks. Worst concussion I ever had – and the first one not caused by a Giant Schnauzer.

And I got my shoulder surgery date – March 8, which will be followed by another 6 weeks of not being allowed to drive.

I’m tired, bored, twitchy, annoyed, desperate to go outside, and afraid to go outside.

The good news is that about 3 days ago I started working Serra again (oh, newsflash, his name is indeed Serra, not Spider. If you want to know why a male’s name is Serra, you can imagine he’s Inara Serra’s cute little brother, Serenity. Google Inara. And his “real” name is, after all, Firefly.

I’m taking the next 2 semesters off from teaching at to get this, the shoulder, and my parents’ move under control. In an optimistic frame of mind I signed up for 2 Fenzi classes – UK-style Heeling with Kamal Fernandez, and Calling All Dogs with Chrissi Schranz. SO thrilled to be working beside such fabulous instructors as all at Fenzi, to be working for such a great boss, and especially right now to have the opportunity to work with great instructors from around the world – Kamal is in the UK, and Chrissi I believe is in Thailand right now.

I’m planning (like my plans have anything to do with reality this year… ) on working both Syn and Serra in the heeling. For some reason doing nothing for so long has inspired me to get back into obedience with Syn, who could be ready for Utility without much work if only she could a) heel, and b) stay. And the recall class because he hasn’t really got a great one (will come under all conditions except distractions I haven’t worked) and it’ll give me a chance to actually work on changing his name in HIS brain.

HEELING – So the last three days we’ve been playing around, getting back in the game. I’ll have to take him out to stores and parking lots when Ron is going for groceries, but I can work in the house. Heeling is starting off with a lot of static work, which is great for me. I’m really sick of putting off obedience and muddling through rally because I can’t be bothered teaching heeling. When they do it, I want them to be GREAT, dammit! Working with Syn really points out how much Serra doesn’t know yet. We start heeling with feeding in heel position from the left hand, high up for a prancing heel for whoever can do it comfortably. Syn got it right away, and moved quickly on to holding a hand touch above her head. Serra’s all gung ho to follow the treats up, though the position is a little tough for him. Maybe needs another physio session. The constant touch on my hand took the full three days so far, but this morning he woke up and gave it a try. Friend Barbara wants us to go to BC for a BH test in September. uh, yeah. I can’t even WALK far enough to do that yet, let alone do it.

Yep, that’s right – at LEAST 4 minutes of heeling. If he can do that, he can certainly do obedience!

LEVELS – the worst part of what he doesn’t know about Level 2 so far is duration of anything, so we’ll be working on sit stays a bit every day. Note to self: do NOT NOT NOT work on down ANYTHING with Giant Schnauzers. Once he’s down, he’s stuck there for the next hour. I distinctly remember doing out-of-sight down stays in obedience with them. While everybody else was like “please please please let her stay down!” I was totally calm because it’s actually illegal in 27 states and 7 provinces for a Giant to break a down stay. So we’ll be doing sit stays and then stand stays and hand touch durations but no down stays.

CONFORMATION – just some stacking and stretching on the PawPods (duration there as well) and some arcs for self-stacking. It’ll be a while since it’ll be 3 months after I start stripping his coat before he can be shown and I’m still 4 months from even being able to start that with my new shoulder.

SCENTING – I’ve started a fair number of dogs on scenting by simply teaching them to nose-touch a container with a teabag in it. No problem. Syn and Stitch figured that out in, like, 5 minutes. 3 sessions a day, 10 minutes each session for Serra and he has ZERO clue what I’m talking about. If he sees the container he’ll happily touch it, but no idea that he should go looking for it, let alone by scent. So yesterday afternoon everybody got a salmon-stuffed bone. He’s thrilled with his bone. Worked on it for 6 hours straight. That gave my poor addled brain in idea! I’ll hide have him target the bone and then see if he’ll start searching for it!

First problem – um, no, HIS bone. Took me several minutes to talk him into coming to me with his Precious, even though we’ve played a lot of trading-for-treats games and a lot of giving-it-back-once-I’ve-looked-at-it games. This is Precious. Different! Well, he finally put his face in my lap so I could take the bone (take the bone. No, can’t let go. But you can take it. No, can’t let go. Go on, take it! I had to pry his mouth open the first time, even though he held his head there for me to take it). So of course I had to admire it and give it back for a minute. Then another 4 times of calling him over. By the 4th time he was able to let me have it without prying his jaws open. And at that very moment, the power went off. Oho! Another idea! That’s what I need for my concussion – a little help with ideas!

In the dark, I shut him in the bathroom and put the bone in the middle of the room. Let him back in and he Found It! (wow, clever guy!).

Bathroom again, I hid it behind a chair leg. He looked for it, glared at me, tried to go back to look in the bathroom. I called him back and stood near it. He caught the scent and followed it down to the bone. YAY!

Four more reps with me hiding the bone in tougher spots. Yes, he DOES know a bit about using his nose. I’ll use the bone for at least another week before I try switching to his ball or something. Well, we got a start, anyway!

Ron’s away for a day, so dogs got to sleep with me. I shut the bedroom door so they wouldn’t be outside through the dog door barking at the coyotes half the night (also old Stitch gets lost outside sometimes which I don’t want to happen at -30 when I’m not around to send Syn out to help her find her back into the house). He was great. Didn’t start chewing on me until 8 AM.

EYE CONTACT – we’re back down to about 6 seconds before I give him his dish. More duration work.

RETRIEVE – that’s coming nicely. He’s got a good solid hold, he’s delivering it to hand and holding it until cued to release. Distance is a bit of a problem – once in a while he decides that 12 feet away is too far and he should maybe look for something easier to do. When that happens, it takes maybe 2 clicks to shape him back to the dumbbell and once he’s near it again, he remembers the job. May be a case of approaching-puberty-male-brain, though he hasn’t started lifting his leg yet.