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August 18th, 2007

10:41 pm
Half Way Home...

Sorry I skipped out on my updates yesterday. . The day was pretty hectic, but it was also pretty cool. We did what they call a traffic route. Basically what that means in a nut shell is that an instructor was following Cinnabar and I around in a minivan and trying to run us over. OK, he was trying to create close calls, but it did kind of feel like we were being hunted down. The cool thing is that every time he darted in front of us or came at us, Cinnabar responded quickly and kept us both out of danger. Most of the time, the van would come flying out of or into a driveway in front of us. There was also at least one instance where he turned right on red in front of us as we were making a street crossing. Cinnabar would just stop on a dime and wait for the car to pass. Her reaction time is really good and I was reading her well and was right with her. The coolest traffic check was when the instructor whipped into a driveway and cut us off, then he started coming toward us. Cinnabar walked backwards as the car kept coming at us. I backed up right with her. It was really amazing to see her do that because it is very un-natural for a dog to walk backwards. Their natural instinct would be to turn and run. But Cinnabar hung in there right with me and backed us away from the danger. We also had a run in with the minivan where it came barreling at us out of a driveway as we crossed in front of it. Cinnabar just picked up her speed and pulled us out of the way. It was so cool. The experience really gave me a new appreciation for my dog. I have already been doing pretty good with trusting her, but after seeing that, I know I can trust her with my life. Her training is incredible. I just can’t get over what these dogs can do. They’re so smart

Yesterday I also had my individual weekly meeting with my instructor. I was told that I am making very good progress and am handling Cinnabar very well. I felt like we were doing really well, but it is still reassuring to have the feedback just to make sure I’m still on track.

Today was kind of a rough day for me and Cinnabar. We went on a route this morning and kind of got thrown off kilter early in the route and never really totally recovered. It all started when we encountered a car backing out of a driveway. There was also a construction barricade right in our path to complicate things. I think Cinnabar might have been extra cautious about the car because of the traffic route we did yesterday. So she took us around the barricade to the side farthest from the car and closest to the street. There was more room to pass on the side away from the street but the car seemed to spook her a little. I was pretty distracted by the car too so I totally lost my orientation . Cinnabar couldn’t get around the barricade so she took me to the curb of my parallel street. I was thinking we were at the next intersection and didn’t even realize we were facing in a different direction. The instructor helped me figure it out, but I was pretty hacked off at myself for losing focus. Cinnabar really didn’t do anything wrong. It was my loss of orientation that got us into trouble. The fact that she wanted to stay away from the car was understandable considering all the close calls we had yesterday. It’s totally normal for her to react a little differently for a few days. We would have been ok if I hadn’t lost track of what we were doing.

So we finally got back on our way, then we got to a street crossing. A couple of things were going on with me at this point. First, I was still fuming at myself over getting all mixed up earlier in the block. Secondly, I think I am getting over-confident with street crossings. I feel so much safer with Cinnabar at my side than I do with a cane that I may be getting a little careless while analyzing traffic sounds. So, I listened to the traffic, heard a car move and gave the forward command. Cinnabar went and we got across the street just fine, but I realized I had crossed at the wrong time and had just crossed with a red light. Fortunately, It was an intersection with light traffic, but it still not something I want to be doing. I was really ticked off at myself after that. The instructor was totally cool about it and told me to let it go because no matter how good your mobility skills are, people still make mistakes sometimes. That’s true and I know that it’s not something I do a lot, but it always makes me mad when I do.

So now I was seething with rage. All these mistakes were on me and I continued to praise Cinnabar for her work, but I think she really sensed my grumpiness. Her pace slowed way down and I had a really hard time getting her to speed back up. I could also tell that she wasn’t moving with her normal confidence. We were just out of sync for the entire rest of the route. I am really going to have to work on letting things go. My bad vibes really affected my dog and I felt horrible about it. She didn’t do anything wrong but because I was irritated, she got uncomfortable and probably thought I was mad at her. I felt so guilty.

After we got back to the dorm, I spent a lot of time playing with Cinnabar and giving her lots of positive attention. We went to the fenced in paddock area so she could play off leash and I sat down in the floor with her and gave her a nice belly rub. She is a very forgiving dog and seemed happy as ever to be with me. I hated to end my week with a bad workout, but I just have to let it go and let my dog know that she can count on me for love and consistent and fair handling.. Everything is fine now and I am looking forward to Monday so we can go out and kick some ass together again.

My roommate, Jessica took her dog to the paddock after dinner tonight. After she got back to the room, she discovered that she had stepped in some dog crap and tracked it into the dorm. It was so hilarious watching her freak out over the mystery poo on her shoe. I think she said “Ew” about a hundred times. It was funny because it wasn’t me. I was at least nice enough to give her an empty grocery bag so she could put it over her hand and not have to touch the shoe when she cleaned it. We were both cracking up.

Speaking of doggy doo. Cinnabar took two dumps at the morning relieve today. It was her first double poop. I was so proud. I was getting kind of jealous because some of the dogs in our class take two or three dumps every time we go out. Of course, next week, we have to start picking up our dogs crap so being jealous is clearly the wrong way to look at it. My dog usually only dumps once or twice a day, so I’ll have less crap to clean up. Woo. But as long as someone else was doing the cleanup, I was having some volume envy. I know, it’s gross and messed up. I blame my father. He always goes on an on about the qualities of a good dump and volume is the most important factor. He has warped my fragile little mind.

Tomorrow is another day off. My class is going on an outing to San Francisco. We are going to hang out in Fisherman’s Wharf for a few hours. I think it will be pretty fun. Most of the people in my class are pretty entertaining. We have a pretty good time together and get along well. Unfortunately, we aren’t allowed to take our dogs off campus yet, so Cinnabar will have to stay here. I hate having to leave her. I am so used to having her now that on the occasions that I have to leave her in my room, I always feel like I have left the room without putting on pants or something. It just doesn’t feel right. But, the instructors say it is good practice for the dogs to spend time alone. Someone will check in on her periodically so I know she will be fine. She’ll probably just sleep the whole time. I think I’ll take her to the paddock before I leave so that she can run around and wear herself out.

I’m exhausted. I have to get my ass in bed now. They weren’t kidding when they said that this was a intense program. I’m worn out but loving every minute of it.