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!

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Silence is Golden . . .

It is, once again, time to step up the training. Cura is doing very well and, apparently, Rick and Heather are ready to challenge us again! Latest Homework? Focus on non-verbal commands. Ultimately, the goal is for Cura to practically be able to read my mind and not require verbal guidance, though still be able to respond to verbal commands in the event that they are needed. Actually, my body will naturally develop subtle signs, motions, expressions, and combinations of these that Cura will ultimately learn to identify as commands. So, our Homework for the next little while is to start developing that mega-fine tuning to our communication. What exactly does that mean?

For Cura, it means having to pay more attention and figuring out what I want without relying on my voice to tell her. She still gets distracted and has to be reminded to focus. While those 'corrections' are less frequent, they are still too plentiful. After almost six months, usually the only corrections required are a very soft noise or a light pat on my thigh and Cura is back on task -- very subtle in comparison to our early days together. It also takes quite a bit more now to distract her -- although weather is still VERY stressful for her. Using more subtle physical commands rather than words should help Cura keep her focus because she has to pay closer attention to me in order to catch the signals telling her what to do. She just keeps improving in leaps and bounds so I anticipate success on her part with this next challenge -- particularly if I can manage to take care of MY end of the Homework!

What is my Homework?! As usual, it is focusing on a change in attitude that will promote a change in energy that will enable Cura to be clearer about her job. Those of you who have been following our journey for some time will remember that in late May/early July, I stopped carrying any kind of bag -- instead, Cura would be responsible for carrying the items that I needed to have with me, with the exception of one or two items in my pockets when I had them (see Changing Habits posted on July 23, 2009). One of the big effects of this change was my attitude -- it is hard to describe the change because Cura was important to me from Day 1, but with the elimination of my bag, she was responsible for things like my identification, keys, and other essentials. From my perspective, it was a very important element of her job and she reacted to the change in my attitude accordingly by being much less distracted. Now, my Homework is to work on changing my attitude to only focus on the moment. Easier said than done, believe me!

Instead of focusing on what I want Cura to do so that I/we can then accomplish x, y, z. I have to learn how to just focus on one thing at a time. It is a subtle difference. The difference between 'Cura, sit and wait.' and 'Cura. Sit. Wait.' The idea is that, by focusing on only one thing at a time, it will focus Cura's attention. Attempting to anticipate the several steps that are going on in my head is contributing to Cura's distractions -- so, my job is to stop thinking ahead so much and just focus on the now. Wish me luck!

On an aside, Cura is relaxing into her new home more and more as time goes by. When she first came home, she had no concept of 'play'. That has gradually been changing. This afternoon, I was able to catch Cura and Skye playing Merry Go Round in the Family Room. Don't blink or you might miss them!