We haven't had classes for two weeks and our last class was the one where Gimme had her seizure. Believe it or not, I was actually nervous about attending class - looking forward to it, but still nervous. I was also nervous about putting Gimme in her soft crate. Now I know logically neither class or the soft crate caused the seizure, but logic didn't help with the ache in my stomach. So, I can clearly see where dogs might make a completely unrelated emotional association, since I'm guilty of the same.
In any case, today marks three weeks without another seizure - a good thing indeed. Now just 21 weeks to go before I can relax a bit. Trying not to obsess, but still every misstep puts me on alert for a few moments.
Class was good. Several of us entered the World Wide video event. So Kathy talked to each of us to find out what areas were challenging and planned class around working on those challenges.
In our case, the issues were all emotional/attitude/focus, which bled over to cause a big loss in precision. Also Gimme isn’t too sure she thinks doing many exercises and waiting for treats later is such a good deal. Heeling has always been really fun for Gimme and so I’m looking forward to getting the fun back.
In class today it seemed to take her longer to get focused and ready to work and most disturbing, we had to repeat the process each time we went onto the floor to work. This confirms my worst fear, Gimme has a bad association to the work itself, not just work-at-DaPaws. Fortunately Kathy was very patient and let me work through it the way Gimme needed to get into the game (she’s really a very good and patient instructor).
The exercises the other students were having problems with were: bow, spins, circle around, and to center. Other than bow, we’ve always done well with those; however, with the lack of focus, today we had difficulty with all of them. So it was still a great class for us, since we were able to work through them and reward a lot for success – which is exactly what we need to get Gimme’s attitude back.
Bow – basically I jumped ahead too soon. So Kathy had me go back to basics and Gimme was really getting it and doing nicely. She does sometimes go from bow straight to down, especially when tired, so Kathy had me give her the treat when she was back up in the stand. Gimme was starting to offer bow to the verbal “salute”. Kathy says she never does more than 3 or 4 bows to a side in one session.
Spins – she’s always had nice tight spins, but right now she takes a gander in the middle of them. So Kathy had me go back to luring and then click/treat only after the first step in “heel” or “side”. At one point Gimme was doing it all wrong – well, until I realized *I* was using the wrong cue. I was saying “spin” and she was on the “turn” side. Poor kid. I apologized and gave her treats for putting up with my mistakes. After this, I gave her the correct cue and she did a lovely “turn” with a bit of airs-above-the-ground embellishment. She just had to show us how proud she is to see me learn something – I’m so challenging doncha know.
Circle around – Gimme was doing a gander in the middle of this too. Part of the problem was my leash handling and the rest was a bit of stress. Kathy put up an expen barrier for us so I could drop the leash and she had me go back to luring it. In no time Gimme was doing beautiful tight circles to her verbals “around” and “behind”. We still have the hand signal back in there, but I’m sure it’ll be gone soon.
To center – Gimme was tending to come in off center, looking toward whichever hand last provided a treat. So I practiced with the cheese in my mouth and spitting it down to her. I’m not a very good spitter, so she got quite a few extras. At least she was happy. And despite my inaccuracy, she did straighten up quite a bit.
So all in all, it was a good class and we have lots to work on. I’m looking forward to next week.
In a strange turn of events, Gimme has rediscovered motherhood. She brought the baby in from the car and was playing with it a lot to begin with. However, now she has been carrying it around for the last couple hours. I’ll let her keep it until she drops it somewhere and then will see if I can sneak it away. Time will tell…