Mississippi Moments

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Dropping like flies they were.....
10 kids, down and gone, with the flu today--throughout the day....it was eery, sad, and completely interesting to watch the cycle repeat itself over and over. We had one faker and she went, too. She was caught licking a cupcake on the way down the hall with her mom. I don't care. She went where she needed to be.

I also witnessed the results of a "pro at work" today and a really smart little dog who loves to learn, please, and go! Lydia had me pick up the boys today after work by coming in and just watching through the kitchen window while she put the boys through some paces and then to show me what Hardy has learned in JUST TWO DAYS! She does with dogs what I do with children. (Can't put that in the homestudy though. The social workers wouldn't think it was funny...and another aside on this same subject. I was pulled aside in the hall at school today by the parent of a PRESCHOOLER--"Ms. R, we sure hope you will stay around so you can train our children, too!"--I thought to myself on the inside, "That's YOUR job, not mine." and on the outside, I said, "It's in God's hands, isn't it?" Big grin. Exit to get leftover children who were not ralphing and dispensing yet.) FOr a half an hour, I watched these things. Cedar and Hardy playing side by side but not interactively with a couple of balls and Lydia. Cedar was jealous throughout this whole sleepover thing and has been taunting Hardy and trying to get him into trouble. Lydia has his little pea-brain number. I saw it in action. It was hilarious. So in less than TWO DAYS,
*Hardy went from not knowing his name (really, he didn't respond when you called him by name) to coming full tilt and he now makes complete, not moving eye-contact.
*He plays a mean ball/fetch/ Lydia calls it showdown where ball is hefted, he retrieves and brings it back full bore with MUCHO distractions (dog barking on other side of fence, Dave complaining on other side of garden, Cedar trying to run and herd him, birds, rats, airplanes and then he hands the ball directly to Lydia and sits and waits for the next toss.
*He walks on lead now with no pulling. No blisters. With focus. With a grin. With respect for the pack leader/walker.
*He responds to the first time to corrections. (And most of the time, Lydia won't allow him not to be successful at first and then after he has had some practice, she gives him a chance to mess up, but he is such a quick and good learner, that he doesn't mess up much. AND JUST AFTER TWO DAYS.
*He did all these things with me...and as Lydia is showing me, I am tense when I walk him and play with him (yes, because he has given me several open blisters and made me dread walks because he pulls which is insane and not safe for him because it doesn't let him be the follower and just be a dog out for an enjoyable walk. He becomes the pack leader, deciding where to go, marking things, deciding when to sniff and stop, when to listen, the pace--those are not for him to decide in order to be a healthy, well-adjusted family/pack member. That is for every member of the family to do BUT him. We walk first. We lead. We set pace. We decide direction. We decide sniffing place and time. Lydia showed me how to do it with him. He responds so well to the positive reinforcement plan. He submitted to her today (more than once) and she taught me some more canine body language. He hasn't submitted to me but he listens to me because he knows I will enforce the rules. She uses his own kibble soaked in dead fish . Yup, I said dead fish. HE LOVES THEM. Cedar-not so much unless Hardy is getting them and he ain't and then he joins the training on the side and when he gets rewarded, he takes it off to the side and spits it out.....and Hardy finds it later and Lydia is so on this, that she actually takes him over there so he can WIN-WIN at something and then he gets to eat it...and not the rats. She says he will be a great, if not champion level Fly-ball or Frisbee dog. He and Cedar were so tired and happy when I came to pick them up that they both fell asleep in the 25 minute drive home. Tongues hanging out of the sides of their mouths, heads down, eyes mostly closed, "oh---what--we home already? uh-okay" . I love watching Lydia in action. I used to think that I could do what she does. Nope. I could not. I am not intuitive about dogs. She is. She breathes dog. She dreams dog. She is dog in people layers. Hardy is a different fellow.I can sense the shift in his focus and energy. And that's what she said to me as we were walking out the door---"Gee, we only had time to work on focusing...so that's what we did. Focus. Now, you are ready for the weekend and to keep it up. The focusing part." I will surely do my best.
Both boys are sacked out now, but no one is snoring.
I am on the very weak end of this flu. I hope it wasn't me that passed it around. I don't think so. I kept away from the children this week. I ventured to have a cup of tea today and some chips. I payed for it somewhat but not like before. Off to math workshop all day tomorrow. I had an evening school meeting tonight as well. I am racing through the week and don't like it much. The highlight of my day, other than watching Lydia work with Hardy and Cedar was the article my brother sent on a new species of raincoastal forest wolves. They're REDHEADS...or should I say REDCOATS!!!


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