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, March 24, 2010

Wandering around without a part of me!

Initially, this post was probably going to be focused on the upcoming 'midterm' -- potentially deteriorating into some kind of obsessive paranoia about the whole thing while valiently attempting to remain positive about our upcoming 'day out'.  Not to mention noting that March 26 is also Cura's adoptiversary!  Yes, amazingly enough, on Friday, Cura would have been with me for a full year!  In preparation for her one year adoptiversary and our midterm, Cura made at trip to the groomers.  She goes about once every two or three months, usually to prepare for a special occassion.  I find that taking her to a professional every few months helps me to stay on top of her grooming needs as long as I diligently give her a weekly onceover in between visits -- which leads me to the actual subject of this post . . .

Apart from the time she had her teeth cleaned, grooming trips are the only times that Cura is not with me.  The degree to which I have become accustomed to her constant companionship hit me like a sledge hammer for the first time today.  Cura was only at the groomers for about two and a half hours, but during that time I must have done, said, or thought something at least 20 times as if she were with me.  It began almost immediately after dropping her off this morning.  I had decided not to feed her prior to her appointment because it was much earlier than normal, plus there was the stress of being separated from me (and the fact that we were running late!).  So, I was planning on feeding her when she got home.  As I was driving back from dropping her off, I found myself thinking "I must remember to feed Cura when we get home."  After a few minutes I realized that "we" were not going to be home for hours because Cura was NOT in her usual spot in the back seat!

Even though the rest of the time she was at the groomers I was at home, I felt her absence.  I kept finding myself glancing at her usual resting spots and thinking "Were's ma dawg?" when I didn't see her -- only to realize that she was still at the groomers.  As I would move from place to place in the house, my first thought would be to either tell Cura to 'stay' or be 'with me' -- it was like I had misplaced a piece of myself.  The whole experience really drove home how much a part of my moment-to-moment existence Cura has become.  Being aware of her -- knowing where she is and how she is at all times -- has become part of my routine.  Frequently, people comment on the fact that she is so well behaved that they forget she is there -- today I found out that I forget when she is NOT there!

I'm betting this means we are ready for Friday!

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Ignoring old friends

Cura is a very friendly dog and is very energetic so one of the very early challenges was helping her to learn that she needed to ignore people and dogs that she knew when she was working.   I think that this last cycle of classes proved that she has well and truly mastered the whole 'impulse control' concept. 

For months now, she has stopped reacting to the arrival of Rick and Heather (something that they both glad and sad about).  But, just because Cura doesn't react when they arrive doesn't mean that she doesn't love them anymore -- as soon as I release her to 'Say Hello', she is clearly very pleased to see them.  But, the amazing development this time around had to do with Cura's old kennelmate.  A few months ago, the dog that Cura lived with at the shelter was also finally adopted and began attending the training classes.  Both dogs clearly remembered each other and would make attempts to greet each other and play (sometimes accompanied by wining or barking). 

This last round of classes, both dogs behaved beautifully!  Cura began treating and responding to him exactly like all of the other dogs in the class -- essentially ignoring him despite the fact that they are old friends.  Oh sure, she would look, but no more wiggling and fussyness.  And he is doing better as well.  They don't attend every cycle, but he is clearly benefitting from the socialization that he is getting (he is on the timid side, so needs exposure to situations outside the home). 

I really enjoy attending the classes.  Sure, everyone else is learning basic commands -- something that Cura no longer needs, but it is a wonderfully distracting environment that is perfect for reinforcing Cura's advanced skills.  By practicing in busy, active environments, Cura's skills become more solidified and she learns to focus despite anything else that is going on around her.

The next cycle of classes start the weekend after Easter -- looks like 'training withdrawals' are in our future . . . but, there is always the upcoming test!