My visit with my new friend, Kevin, from Morristowngreen.com was really cool. Not only was it a good opportunity for me to meet someone new, but it also gave me some much needed non-dog related outside contact with the world. We took a couple of trips around the leisure path, giving him an idea of how dogs work close up. Kevin also took some pictures of us to put on the site which may appear here as well. Let's face it, I haven't posted many pictures of Velvet and I on my journal, so this was good. In our nonwalking, nonphoto snapping spare time, we hung out in the lounge where we chatted with the people and their other visitors about technology and life in general. It ended my Sunday very nicely, even if it got a bit cool and windy in the foliage and trees around the leisure path.
Last night was probably one of the most unique experiences I've had in training with Velvet. At first I thought that going to a class entitled "dog massage and play" might be odd, but when we were all done, I thought it was pretty neat. By targeting various muscle groups in the dog and massaging much like you'd do to another person, you can relax both you and the dog. They described all of the steps to us as we all (about 12 of us) sat on the floor with our pups. I can't picture how it actually looked, but it sure sounded kind of silly. Travel with me now as I describe the scene.
Imagine a room with twelve people and twelve dogs. Still with me? Ok good, that's a simple image. Now imagine a person at the front of the room, much like a teacher would be. Every once in a while, as he goes through the various "hot spots" on the dog to massage and rub, he comes over to you to show you the proper way. he talks about how we can give our dogs positive energy with massage. Notice the soft new age music in the background, and think to yourself how eerily similar it sounds to when you got a bath and massage at Hot Springs National Park in Arkansas. Now realize that it's not you being massaged, but it's ... you got it ... your dog. Notice now the people around you cooing and talking softly to their dogs, in some cases trying to calm them down, in others trying to keep them awake ... alive? ... breathing? You flip your dog over to massage her other side and you marvel at the sound she makes as she flops over, floursack like, rady for more.
I thought it was interesting and relaxing for me for sure, but also for Velvet. By the end of it, she was pretty much asleep, and reminded me of a gelatinous Velvet dog. She didn't care where I touched her, she just cared that I touch her. The process isn't too hard, and really helps to strengthen the bond between you and your dog and could give them a chance to unwind after a busy day. I don't know, honestly, if I'll have time to massage her every day (I'll definitely pet her every chance I get), but the one on one time that massage allows is really kind of neat I thought. And some people pay big bucks to have their dogs massaged? Ridiculous! Or maybe a business opportunity for me? Definitely not, but it sure made me think about what and how much people spend on their dogs. Hmmm.
Today was pretty picture perfect as Velvet's work went. In the morning, we went on a route where we tested her street crossing and street entering abilities, and as always, clearance issues here in Morristown. She got right out there today. Seems as the New York City elixir cured her of her boredom and caution to enter the street. We don't want her, or I for that matter, to get too cocky about travelling, but I'm glad we're doing loads better.
In the afternoon, we went to visit the land of the Blue h*** (Wal-Mart) to test how Velvet would follow an instructor around and through aisles, harness through isles and around tight corners, and all that kind of store stuff. Again, pretty darn close to perfection. Too bad we have to leave soon and throw us into an unfamiliar area. I think we'll be ok.
Lately, I've been travelling, especially on long trips, with an annoying and increasingly painful sensation in my left wrist. My left arm is what I hold the harness with, and for some reason, most likely since Velvet pulls more than Fiona did and walks differently, my amr gets really painful after about a mile of walking. In New York for instance, I'd have to stop for a while and work my fingers like I'm playing a piano to get circulation and sensation back into my hand. I mentioned this to another student who has this really cool harness handle that they designed for her because she's got problems with her hand, and she told me that I should mention it to another instructor. She got to the instuctor in question before I did, and when i got back, they nabbed me and asked me what was going on. They have a handle they call the ergo handle, mostly for people who have problems like the ones I'm having. The principle of the thing is that rather than being a relatively straight, two-dimentional plane, it's tilted a bit to the left. The harness reminds me of how it might be if someone took the thing, got really mad, and twisted itmaybe 20 degrees or so to the left. Rather than pulling directly on my wrist, it should transfer the pull to my biceps, and maybe fix my problem. I walked on the leisure path tonight to test drive it, and it was definitely different, but I'm starting to get used to it, and am really liking it. I noticed that I'm definitely using different muscles with the ergo, but duh, that's the point? I'll just have to get used to using those muscles more. Time will tell, and I don't have much time left here, if I switch to the new handle, but it's looking good that I might do that. I felt like specimen though at dinner because I kept talking about how cool it was there, and so had to show it to lots of people. I was happy to show it off :)
Tonight we had a lecture with points and tips on going home. I knew most of the things that were covered, but it's always nice to review. As years go by, this school changes slightly, so it's always good, I think, to listen and be receptive to the changes. I think that the flight should be ok. The take off and the landing should be a definitely new experience--heck the whole plane ride will be a new experience for the Velvet puppy--but I think I can calm her down, especially with the new massage techniques and positive energy transferrance I've just learned :). I remember how, when travelling with Fiona for the first time on the plane, that she just stood up for takeoff and landing, and slept the rest of the time. Velvet is very low key like Fiona, and after a while, she'll get the hang of this curiously human thing we call flying. Fiona always used to slide as we took off because, after a while, she just slept through the whole thing. I wonder what Velvet will do. The dogs and cat will be an unknown in the equation because I can't guarantee that at least one of the dogs is controlled, but I think I can handle them. It's the training that I'm still a bit worried about--mostly because I live in the middle of nowhere where it will be difficult to work easily from my house. Again, I think we'll manage, but this doesn't preclude me from worrying ... it's not my make up to not worry, sadly.
All I know is that I'll have to pack tomorrow, and no matter what I'm packing for, I hate packing with a passion.
And so that I have enough energy to pack, I better close this and head to bed. I'll have to test out my new harness handle in actual real world working conditions. The leisure path was a good test, but it didn't help test things like stopping for streets, curbs, steps, and that kind of thing. My arm should be better with the ergo harness handle though, and if that's the case, I know I'll be a happier, less numb, and less tired person tomorrow evening. "forward" to tomorrow!