Cura and I have been together since 2009. We want to thank all of you who followed the early days as well as those who popped back on occasion during the long hiatus. Training was done, the days passed, and we were settling into our life together.
Fast forward: Cura is slowing down and a new member of the family is in training. On top of that, we are all busy with our new calling . . . Running the Training Department for Paws and Stripes. Join us on our journey!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Shoes . . . (and fences)

Yes, again . . . but it is the training focus at the moment which means that shoes are what is foremost on my mind so that is where I am going to begin -- who knows where I will end up!

In addition to her walks, Cura wore her shoes from about 9am to about 1pm yesterday -- almost four hours non-stop. For the most part, she did really well, but she did have her points of protest. This time it was getting in and out of the car. All of a sudden, she couldn't jump up onto the back seat or from the back seat onto the ground. Adjusting the shoes did nothing to solve the problem and ultimately she managed the maneuvers -- but I certainly felt like the Wicked Witch of the West making her do it despite her protests. Maybe I should clarify . . . by protests I don't mean that she was making any protesting noises (no whining, barking, grumbling -- nothing like that). Instead it was just Cura pitifully attempting to make the 3-ish foot jump into the SUV that completely fell short of the mark.

Now, before any of you start feeling sorry for the poor puppy who is being ruthlessly forced to do the impossible, let me give you some of that 'history' I told you I was not going to go into in the first posting but would probably have the opportunity to share in later posts. On Cura's adoption paperwork it specifically says that she needs a yard with at least a SIX FOOT FENCE. Why is this necessary, you ask? Apparently, she is capable of jumping a six foot fence FROM A SEATED POSITION with hardly any effort whatsoever.

Now, we do not have a six foot fence, however, on the other side of one of our five(ish) foot block wall is about a twelve foot drop to a concrete and gravel surface. Since Cura had formed such a strong bond with me and was going to be in an environment that was constantly challenging her, the fact that our wall was not 6+ feet was not considered a problem -- and for several weeks it wasn't. Rick and Heather made sure to tell me that any time Cura looked at the top of the fence/wall she needed to be corrected to counter her conditioned response to fences -- which was to jump them -- and the few times that she looked, I did correct her, but there was no real attempt to jump the fence and leave the yard . . .

And then I started getting confident that she WOULDN'T jump it. Within two weeks of me commenting on the fact that, while her paperwork said that she bolted out doors and jumped fences, I had never seen such behavior -- she did BOTH! Just goes to show you that the universe is perfectly content to teach you a lesson immediately! Well, the powers that be decided to pretty much put me in my place in short order. Right about the time I realized how different (in a positive way) my life was now that Cura was with me -- even though she was not fully trained in her job -- I was put in two situations that made me face the possibility that I could lose her, however remote a possibility that might be. (Rick and Heather are PRETTY DARN CONFIDENT that Cura is simply NOT going to take off).

First, she decided that she was going to bolt out the garage as the door was coming down. It took about ten minutes for me to get my hands on her. To top it off, and this is the part that was frustrating for me, whenever she turned a corner, she would keep peeking around it to make sure that I was still following her! It was one of the more difficult moments in my life when she finally responded to my command and didn't prance out of my reach. The fact is that she DID (finally) do what I told her to so I HAD to praise her for her obedience or I would be undermining the command -- but, because of the merry chase she gave me, I just wanted the throttle her! I am happy to say that I managed to shower her with love and approval -- but it was a close call!

Then, about a week later, we were in the back yard and (I found out later) a man was walking his dog along the sidewalk behind our block wall -- the one with the twelve foot drop. She started to rapidly pace the wall and, before I could stop her, she jumped onto the wall and was precariously balanced there for what seemed like an eternity. I like to think that she didn't actually INTEND to go over once she saw how far the drop was. She managed to balance on top of the wall for a bit, but not long enough for me to actually reach her and stop her from going over. That time was scarier for me because people race down that road entirely too fast and I had to actually lose sight of Cura in order to go around the block so that I could get my hands on her. Once again, she led a merry chase -- though shorter in duration. Lesson learned -- she is not ready to be in the back garden off-lead.

However, given the jumping rebellion we had today -- maybe putting her out there off-lead in her shoes would work just fine!

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