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!

Monday, January 4, 2010

Happy New Year!!

First, let me apologize for the long absence.  It was not my intention to take a break from blogging for the holidays, it just happened.  But, I must admit, I think it was for the best.  At first, I just had too much to do and had to make some hard choices about what had to give.  But, that would have only resulted in a delay rather than complete silence.  However, after completing all the grading for the semester, I began a computer boycott!
I taught several online courses during the Fall and, combined with personal computer use, spent practically all day, everyday on the computer and just couldn't bring myself to turn the darn thing on.  I deleted junk email using my phone but, other than that I completely ignored cyberspace . . . no blogs, no twitter, no email.  Frankly, I will probably never boycott the computer for more than a couple of days at a time ever again.  When I could finally face the computer again, I had LITERALLY hundreds of blogs, emails, and tweets (each) to read.  I am finally caught up again.

Now for the update.  I will make it short and sweet.  I promised some details about our trip to Madrid for the Christmas Parade.  Cura was dressed in all her gear and had a wonderful time.  For the first time, she was actually happy to be in her boots. The ground was covered in ice and snow and it was pretty cold, so I imagine she was much more comfortable with them and appreciated the protection.  There were a number of dogs running around, off-leash and on, and there were plenty of opportunities to practice my boundaries.  I was very successful with the dogs that were off-lead.  Those on-lead were less responsive to my boundaries.  They were more concerned with pulling against the tension on the leash than anything else.  The ones that I especially loved were the owners who assured me that their dog was friendly while the pup was dragging them around, excited and bouncing all over the place instead of remaining calm and interacting with other dogs and people politely.  But, the important thing is that Cura and I did very well in a new environment with numerous challenges.

Cura in Full Gear!

If you look closely, you can see the Gentle Leader that I mentioned in my last post.  While we still use a head collar, it is no longer the Gentle Leader.  The rubbing on Cura's muzzle became so bad that there was significant hair loss so I did some serious shopping and switched her to a Halti which, unlike the Gentle Leader, has padding on the muzzle straps.  Although Cura tends to grow hair slowly, after almost a month with the new head collar, she is starting to get her hair back on the areas of her muzzle that were affected.

We spent Christmas Eve at home, but had a number of people over for an Italian Feast.  Cura was a star!  It was the first time that so many people had been in the house, many she had never met.  At first, she was a bit excited, so I just kept her at my side on her lead.  Since I was in the kitchen, this required that she focus all her attention on my movements and ended up ignoring the guests.  While Cura was doing very well, I decided that it would be a good idea to put on her vest shortly after the first guests arrived.  I figured that it would keep everyone from distracting her with petting and attention and making it more difficult to do her job.  It ended up having the added bonus of focusing her even more.  Even with the door opening and closing and the house filled with festive people, Cura was very relaxed; eventually falling asleep once I finally stopped flitting around for the evening.

New Year's Eve fireworks were another challenge during the holidays.  However, Cura did much better than she did for Independence Day.  She got jumpy, but did not run and hide in a dark corner, quivering.  This holiday season gave us plenty of challenges that just reinforced the fact that Cura is growing more and more comfortable in her home and with her duties.

I must admit that, with all the holiday activity, I have not been as diligent with training as I usually am.  But, we have returned to a schedule that is more normal in the past couple of days and by the end of the week, I imagine we will be back into our usual routine -- if not a better one!  I am not really one for New Year's Resolutions (to often they get broken after a short time), so I will not 'resolve' to increase our training efforts.  But, there is always room for improvement and a bit more time spent in training will certainly not go amiss!