Sunday, March 14, 2010

Trying not to take it all for granted...

Something amazing happened yesterday. Something so amazing that I ought to be shouting it from the rooftops, bragging about it to everyone I come across, something that I could never have imagined happening only six months ago. And yet, it barely registered in my consciousness.

Maisy and I went to PetSmart yesterday, something we do on a fairly regular basis. It's a good opportunity to work on our Control Unleashed skills if the store is busy, and if it's quiet, it's a chance to work on our obedience skills in a different environment. Yesterday, I went with the idea of working on heeling in mind. In fact, that idea was so firmly in my head that even upon seeing all the dogs and chaos, I didn't revert to working on CU stuff instead. As a result, I almost missed out on appreciating just how far my reactive dog has come.

So, we were in the store, and there were two women with adolescent yellow labs in the store. They were dragging their people around the store, jumping and leaping in some rather impressive displays of acrobatics, panting heavily, and just generally being adolescent labs. Adding to that, there was a large, darkly colored mix of some sort- the sort that typically guarantees a reaction out of Maisy- as well as a few small dogs, about Maisy's size. In other words: lots of distraction, lots of chaos, and prime breeding grounds for over-arousal and reactivity.

And yet my amazing dog never once growled, barked, lunged or even initiated playing Look At That (which she normally does when feeling stressed). In fact, at one point, we accidentally came within ten feet of all of these dogs at the same time, and Maisy's only response was to solicit play.

She solicited play.

Her response to a huge handful of crazy, to what only six months ago would have provoked an over-the-top reactive episode, was to give a play bow.

That is so amazing I can barely believe it, and yet at the time, I was frustrated that she wasn't in heel position. Here's Maisy, being the most amazing dog in the world, and I'm worrying about something as stupid as heeling.

Sometimes, I'm just as amazed at my own foolishness as I am by Maisy's progress.


Laura, Lance, and Vito said...

oh yay!!! I am so proud of Maisy and so happy for you! It's amazing how far she has come!

You know if you ever feel she's ready to be around more dogs Lance would be a great candidate (and probably Vito). They see so many dogs every day that they don't care, wont even glance in her direction. But if she does want to interact they're good sniff and greet dogs and won't be all in her face.

Crystal said...

You know, I think we'll take you up on that sometime this spring/summer.

Maisy and I hung out with Elizabeth and Beckett today. Beckett's a greyhound, and they did great together. She also did amazing on a walk with lots of dogs, people, bikes, scooters, kids... just so relaxed!

Slowly but surely, she's doing better and better. :)

Megan said...

That's great news Crystal! Really great news. Sorry we missed you guys today, but it sounds like an excellent day!

I'm looking forward to next weekend!

Dawn said...

That is wonderful! Just great. Maisy is a sweet dog and it is so good that she is becoming so much more confident.

Crystal said...

It's amazing how much she's changed over the last six months or so. She really has become *so* much more confident, and more relaxed. I'm sure a lot of it has to do with the training we've done, but I just don't understand it.

elegy said...

That's absolutely amazing! What a good girl you are Maisy!!