Thursday, October 14, 2010

Busy, Busy, Busy


It has been a crazy week. It is exam time again in our classes, so there was a lot of studying to do. Why is it that even when I keep up with classes/class readings I still feel the need to reread every single chapter right before a test?

It is a personality quirk I could do without.

Tomorrow I head out to the new barn for the third time. I'm really loving it so far, though honestly, I'd be hard-pressed to not love it when horses are involved. ;)

My trainer, Lakey, has me riding a bay gelding named Irish who is about as much a schoolmaster as any horse I've ever seen. The nice thing about him is that, unlike most (all?) lesson horses I've ridden, his canter departures are flawless. No getting hauled around an increasingly faster trot while getting more and more nervous and kicking until my leg is tired.

Since the transition from trot to canter has been my fear for literally years (some bad experiences as a kid turned me into a very timid rider, though I'm probably one by nature anyway), I'm hoping he will be able to help me get over it. Irish is a real sweetheart.

Before ending this post I have to brag on Diocese.

Diocese in Shadow

Diocese is our older Border Collie. He has some behavioral problems, namely his fear-reactivity to strangers. We can't take him on walks around the neighborhood unless it is late enough at night that no one is likely to be outside. He has to be locked up when we have guests. The UPS guy knocking on the door is enough to throw him off his game for a full day at least. He's never bitten anyone, but he will certainly act the part of Cujo at times.

Not that he is a bad dog. I'm not just saying that because he is my heart dog either. Anyone who really knows how to read doggy body language can see that he is terrified when he sees somebody he doesn't know. My agility trainer said he is bar none, including her own dogs, the most affectionate dog she has ever met. A behaviorist once said he is truly weird, because he is notfinenotfinenotfinenotfine and then *poof* omgiloveyouwillyoupetmeforeverandeveramen.

Now, we spend a lot of time working on his reactivity. In certain specific situations he is much less reactive than others (e.g. he is much better at the agility field, with all the happiness he associates with that place). Our house is not one of those places.

Now that the backstory is out of the way, I'll get to the real story.

We had a couple of friends come over the other day, both guys we've known since high school, and that D has known since he was a puppy (whether he remembers it or not). I put Diocese behind a baby gate in the hallway, where he could see some of the living room, where I was sitting, but not where the guys were sitting. He saw them every now and then, and eventually I asked one of them to help me with a training exercise with him.

Diocese was perfect.

More importantly, he did so well, with zero signs of nervousness (possibly because this is a friend who I do a lot of training with), we decided to try and let him come into the living room on a leash, just in case. With the exception of a few minutes of nervous sunken cheeks on D's part, he was fine.

By the end of the night, he was sitting between our two friends, getting petted by both at the same time, and looking like he was about ready to melt from happiness.

It was heartwarming to not see him scared to death, and actually acting like a "normal" dog around other people.

Yay. :)


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