Tag Archives: re-training

Healing and Heeling

I’m so proud of Callie. She taught me a valuable lesson last week, and together we informed our obedience instructor of a new piece of information to add to her large knowledge base.

After the dragging required by our instructor last week (when Callie would stop walking… read more here) Callie was totally afraid of the word heel and would pull back immediately if she hit the end of the leash, as if in preparation for being dragged. She was also a little more fearful of me.

So, I started over. First, I rid the word heel from my vocabulary. Then I refused to drag her along as I walked. For the first couple of days, I would stop when she did, give her leash a quick tug, saying, “come on,” or “let’s walk” show her a treat and call her along. Then I moved to pulling her along for two steps, stopping, calling to her and usually she would start walking so she would get a treat.

I did go get a martingale collar and a much lighter leash to which she responded very well.

Finally, on the day before class, I began reintroducing the word “heel” on occasion, interspersed with the other commands I had been giving. She would stop at first but grew more comfortable as we went along.

Tuesday came, and it was time for class. I spoke to the instructor ahead of time. I tried to explain about puppy mill dogs and how they are only ever grabbed by their scruffs, why that might make Callie react the way she does when pulled on the leash. The instructor listened to me, although I am not sure she fully paid attention to what I was trying to tell her until class began.

Beforehand, I had been smart and stopped for some smoked cheese. I broke it up into little bits in my treat bag and mixed it with her regular Zukes treats so those would be coated with cheese too.

We began class with heeling around the room, Callie started with a pause, a little nervous and reactionary after the week before. Who could blame her? But I got out a little cheese. Suddenly, I had a dog who was heeling perfectly around the room. A few pieces of cheese kept her going, but she was passing other dogs who weren’t behaving quite as well. The instructor’s jaw was nearly on the floor.

We worked on heeling turns next. Callie seems to get really frustrated when she doesn’t know what I want from her, so I had to help her a lot with this, keeping her in place while trying to turn, LOL.

We heeled around the room again, stopping to do heeling turns. Callie did great, especially with the cheese as an incentive, but finally, she hit her limit and sat, refusing to move. I recognized that she needed a break, so I just sat in the middle of the floor with her while all the other dogs went around us.

The last thing we did in class was begin work on recall with the instructor holding the leash and us across the room. Not only did Callie do a beautiful sit-stay while I walked across the room from her, but she ran to me with excellent speed and intent.

Callie was the star student last week. Now let’s see if we can keep it up tomorrow. All I know is that learning with Callie is often following along blindly and stumbling our way through each moment.

Jess and I took Callie to the park this weekend. She made a new best friend, the flying turtle! Plus she practiced her obedience work outside with kids around. My brilliant dog 😊.

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Flying turtle!
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Happy Dog!

Guess what else! This morning I got my first semblance of a doggie smile while giving Callie some scratchies 💖 fullsizeoutput_d7f

Shaking Those Rescue Dog Doubts

I don’t usually respond to the daily prompts, but I was inspired by today’s, “doubt.”

Rescuing a dog isn’t easy. Rescuing a dog who is middle-aged and doesn’t have a clue about the outside world has presented its own set of difficulties.

And the doubt that comes with the experience can be painful.

  • Doubt that you understand their needs at the moment
  • Doubt that you are giving them enough attention or enough space
  • Doubt that they will ever communicate with you
  • Doubt that they will ever play with a toy
  • Doubt that they will show affection towards you
  • Doubt that they might ever come running to the door to greet you
  • Doubt that they may ever fully be house-trained
  • Doubt that you are feeding the right food
  • Doubt that you are doing everything right
  • Doubt that you will be able to guide them past things that cause the dog fear and help them grow.

In those moments of doubt, I try and remember how far we have come.

Callie's ride home from the rescue.
Callie’s ride home from the rescue.
Callie's first day at home
Callie’s first day at home
Callie met her new best friend!
Callie met her new best friend!
Callie started having adventures :)
Callie started having adventures 🙂
Callie learned to use pet steps!
Callie learned to use pet steps!
Callie played Santa
Callie played Santa
She learned what snow was, but questioned why we played in it.
She learned what snow was, but questioned why we played in it.

 

 

 

 

She's started to love walks.
She’s started to love walks.

AND – she’s learning to be silly 🙂

I still have plenty of doubts. All the time. But if I remember the good moments during the frustrating ones, it helps to know we are still moving forward.

Doubt

Quick Catch-Up

Hey, friends! Callie writing today 🙂 Mom has been super-duper sick for the last week, so she hasn’t been writing and I have been VERY busy taking care of her.

I wanted to share some fun moments with you because mom says I’m becoming a dog and I think that’s supposed to be a good thing. At least, it feels good!

I’ve learned I can stretch out on the couch:

calliestretches-out-on-couch

Which mom says is both a good and bad thing. She likes that I now think I can take up my “own” space since I am still “good” (what does that mean?) about getting off the couch, but she gets annoyed that sometimes I take up more space than the humans. Ummm, time for a bigger couch, duh.

callie-head-shot

Lucky for me, mom says I have nearly perfected the Cavalier face. I’m working on it. Seriously, WHY would you kick me off the couch?

 

Speaking of WHY, my HUMANS gave me a BATH! Seriously. WHY?!?

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I was cold after, they used this loud thing that blew air at me, and rubbed me lots with towels. Not happy. But then they wrapped me in fleece blankets, and I got lots of cuddles… that part was ok. I guess.

 

Ooooh! But on a better note, this is me greeting my BEST FRIEND IN THE WHOLE WORLD when her dad dropped her off. I used to be scared to do more than wag my tail, but now I have learned to dance and play. This time my best friend kind of stole the show, but I think that might have been because she knew mom was filming.

 

Oh yeah, and I’ve gotten a lot calmer about cuddling. My mom makes me feel relaxed.

i-love-my-mommy

Do you see how pretty and long my fur is getting? You can really tell on my legs and feet. YAY! I’m starting to feel like me again. I’ve never been able to grow my hair out before – I think I might want this to be my new look:

longhaired-tri

It can’t be THAT much more grooming, right?

Edited to add:

New favorite things:

DUCK FEET! Well, anything duck, but duck feet, mmmmm.

Playing with the cat toys with the cats

The pet store – I know it now so I LOVE it!

Less favorite things:

Winter coats – why did I have to get stuck in Vermont?

Road salt and that gunk mom puts on my feet – BLAGH on both

The cats still weird me out, they come out of nowhere, they rub up against me then they run away. They lay near me and put their tails over my head. Cats. What?!?

❤ to you all, thanks for continuing to follow along with my story!

The Lives They’ve Lived Before

 

 

callie-sleeping
Callie the Couch Dog

It is the little things that impress-frustrate-embolden me when I am with Callie. Just now I spent 15 minutes convincing her that a. the stool I brought in from the kitchen was not evil, and b. that she could possibly climb on it to get up on the couch.

“Why?” You might wonder.

Two reasons again – 1. because she can’t seem to jump up on the couch and is scared of being picked up, yet she wants to be up here all the time, and 2. because she has a lot of trouble transferring skills.

She didn’t get up on the couch, but she got her front paws up on the stool and considered how she might get from there to the sofa. But, then she got overwhelmed and stepped back down. I’m proud of her. Front paws on something new in 15 minutes is pretty impressive.

It’s different than when you are working with a puppy. A rescue, especially one who has never seen the outside world, sees everything with far more trepidation than your average puppy. They’ve already lived lives.

Callie came to us from a puppy mill. She was there for the last five years and hasn’t known anything but the inside of a cage, puppies, and the experience of being shoved in another cage for mating. Did I mention she doesn’t like to be picked up? It’s mostly because it freaks her out if anybody touches her rear end. ‘Nuff said.

callie-playingWatching her fear drives my desire to find solutions for Callie to experience the world in a much more positive way without too many accommodations. That was her life she lived then, I’m responsible for the life she lives from her on out.

 

 

One cat definitely doesn’t mind that Callie takes the couch!

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Pippin the Cat-Dog