Velvet really is a good worker. We traveled in an area that goes first through a residential area, and then into one of the main streets in town. I think that the route in total is about ten blocks ... not a hugely difficult thing to do. Throw in traffic checks, barricades placed purposely onto the middle of the sidewalk, and dogs placed just to create distraction areas for the guide to avoid, can and has made me tired. She did well avoiding the barricades and with some gentle verbal prompting got past the dogs. Traffic was a bit on the difficult side as she seemed to, at first, stop me too close to the traffic.
Out in the wild, I would normally avoid all audible traffic. We are taught to listen to traffic flow and respect it. The dogs aren't necessarily taught to actively listen for traffic, but they are taught to respect it. I don't know the fuill details on how they actually do this because I haven't experienced it, but I do know that when we got too close to the car which was driven by another instructor out of an alley or driveway, the instructor tapped Velvet lightly on the nose with a newspaper much like you might with a ... wait for it ... misbehaving dog. Because she'd been swatted every time we'd been checked, when the final check came on our final block, Velvet actually put us in reverse and actually turned away from the car. Dog seem to live in the moment yet they remember the important things, so after I really praised her, she continued to surge down the home stretch.
She's my second dog, and she ceases to amaze me as to how dogs are intelligent enough to actually figure this stuff out. It's amazing to me, for instance, that they can see well enough to go around holes and people talking on cel phones, slow for rough patches, and even remember the smell or look of the vans we use.
I've found that Velvet is a very sensitive dog toady--much less sensitive than Fiona. Pull too hard on her leash, and it really actually hurts her feelings--I really do believe dogs have rudimentary feelings--but a firmly stated "no" does the trick just as well if not better. I corrected her too hard with the leash today, and it took us ages to find the room afterwards because she'd lost focus and the drive to work with me. I felt really bad about it, so sat with her and petted her for a half hour or so until I felt like she was better. I just worry that I'm going to ruin the tentative bond we have, so I don't want to screw it up too badly. I fell like I should know this stuff ... that I should know how to work a dog ... but she's a new dog and every dog has a different personality, temperament, and sensitivity. She's still a good girl, and she still wags her tail when I come over and let her go between my legs, so I think we're back to where we started off, especially since the incident happened during lunch--a couple of hours before going on our second trip. She wouldn't have worked for me at all if it'd broken her spirit too much, but she worked superbly considering.
In the Velvet is Funny department. She was throwing her Nylabone around yesterday (she likes to throw her bone for herself), and it hit either the wall or the bedframe and shattered. I shouldn't say that it completely shattered it just broke in half, but for one of those plastic bones, that's pretty amazing. Any little bubble in the plastic creates a stresspoint, so that's what happened. No, Velvet isn't that strong or annoyed at me :). They say that this has happened before, and I should have a new one by later this afternoon.
Also, in the Velvet is hilarious Department ... We had strawberries and shortcake with whipped whipped cream for dessert today with our turkey club sandwiches--mmmm. I was bending my face down to get Velvet up and get her ready to go, and I guess I had a bit of whipped cream still on my face because Velvet licked it off for me, right there in front of everyone in the dining room. The person who was serving our table thought it was hilarious and cutem I more thought it was hilarious, cute, and a bit on the gross side.
We really had a great meeting last night. I enjoyed being able to talk, much like I enjoy writing, about my last guide. I didn't cry, but came close. I know that the Fiona chapter of my life isn't completely closed yet, but having a neat dog like Velvet really helps me get through it. I'm just glad I'll at least be able to see Fiona again when I get home.
Food, as I've said, continues to be good. It was fried eggs and bagles for breakfast this morning. I can't remember what's for dinner, but I'm sure it will contribute to at least some marginal weight gain in my future.
In all of this training, I fit some working on thesis time in, and I think that I've got it close to being done, and changes implemented from my thesis committee. It's all up to Bob my advisor to do his thing, because we've got to finish it by tomorrow ... or else.
That's about it for me. I need a nap, seriously ... and this isn't even finishing the first week. CRAZINESS!