Wow. My mama and I have been so busy that I just haven't had much time to post anything. So sorry for the delay. I tried to post a couple weeks ago, but the website wasn't working properly, so I'll just have to catch you all up on the last couple of weeks in one super long post!
I went hiking with my mentors, Lola, Abbey, and Jake, and their wonderful humans, and for the most part, I did really well. I love hiking, so as long as I was leading the pack, everything was wonderful. I threw a few fits, unfortunately, but Mama, the other humans, and my mentors handled it well. My first fit was because Jake left our group for a while and then came back. You see, if you leave my group, you are no longer part of my group, and when you come back, you are once again A Strange and Scary Dog, so I screamed at him for a little bit, but I did eventually get over it all on my own, and then we got back to our hiking.
I got mad at Jake again a little later because he decided to walk next me instead of behind me, and I just wasn't quite ready for that yet, so I might have screamed a few bad words, but shortly after that, Lola started hiking next to me, and though I was a little tense, I didn't mind so much. Maybe I was just getting used to the idea.
A lady came jogging by with two dogs who were off leash at first. We asked her to leash her dogs, which she did, but that didn't stop me from screaming at them how much I wanted the trail to be all ours and nobody else's. No Strange and Scary Dogs allowed! The lady ran really, really fast when I started screaming. I'm sorry, Lady! I really do like humans!
I know that sounds like a lot of badness, but really, I mostly had a wonderful time. I mostly walked on a short leash, and I mostly smiled, and Mama had a wonderful time hanging with her human friends, so it was great day.
This past Sunday, I was asked to stay home from training class, but I was invited to my very own special private training with Marthina, Mary, and Anna, the wonderful trainers from Our Pack. Mama was pretty excited about the event, but she wouldn't tell me what was going to happen. When I got there, I could smell lots and lots of dogs, so I was pretty tense. I got out of the car, and everything seemed okay. There were quite a few humans and dog smells, but no dogs. Mama introduced me to a big, strong man and then gave my leash to him. She has never let anyone hold my leash before, so I knew this was going to be big.
Then, Marthina brought out my friends from past training classes, you know... those special dogs that look and smell like dogs but have stuffing instead of guts. I said hi to them, and they kind of ignored me, so I got bored with them. Next, Marthina brought out Dr. Dexter. I said a few anxious things to him, but I remembered Dr. Dex from before, and he refused to be scary. He didn't have a wall to hide his head behind like he did when we first met, but he still turned around so that I could only scream at his butt, and that just got old fast. Then, my mentor, Lola, appeared with her human. I was a little more tense again, but, well... it was Lola. As long as she wasn't too terribly close, I didn't mind. Suddenly, this dark blue girl named Tink appeared. I didn't know Tink. I was sure she could be some horrible alien beast under that pretty blue facade, so I screamed at her to get away! I screamed loud and long and yanked on my leash and lunged and pulled, but I noticed that with the big, strong man holding my leash, no one cared. I couldn't budge him an inch, and it was like everyone was completely ignoring my screaming. I kept looking up at Mama to tell me what to do, but she wouldn't respond! I even tried looking at Marthina since I knew she was the super big boss lady, but she wouldn't tell me either!! So I screamed some more until I got kinda tired of screaming, and I noticed that Tink didn't really care that I was screaming, so eventually I stopped. Surely nothing more could happen after that.
Oh, but I was wrong. Out waltzed this tiny little pit bull named Hannah. I later learned that Hannah was deaf, which explains why my screaming didn't bother her, and she kept looking right at me. Granted, she looked at me like I was a complete nutter while I was screaming my head off, not like she wanted to hurt me, but I was scared and didn't know what to do with myself, and she was the fourth dog right next to me, so I screamed and barked and screamed and lunged and barked and pulled and screamed until I had foamy stuff around my mouth, and you know what? Hannah didn't care either. No one cared. And being so anxious and pitching such a huge fit is really exhausting. So I stopped caring, too. We did some pack walking. Then I lied down. All the dogs were close to me, and I just decided that it wasn't worth freaking out over it anymore. I was quiet for nearly 30 minutes before the big, strong man finally let me go back into my car.
I slept really good that night.
Marthina has a new action plan for me. Since I do really well with the hiking and since she thinks my progress in class has slowed a bit because it's all just very overwhelming for me, she is going to have me go hiking with my mentors and a few different dogs every other week, and on the off weeks that I'm not hiking, I'll be doing the same kind of training I did this past Sunday. The humans have been calling it "extinction training." Mama says this very same method is used for humans with post traumatic stress disorder. The idea behind it is to allow someone to face their trigger, to face the very thing that scares them to death, but without ever having to face any of the bad things that used to follow those triggers, and gradually the traumatized person learns how to calm his or herself and starts to believe that no bad stuff will happen when faced with the scary thing. So that is how we are going to work on my training from now on. I have to learn to calm myself, and I'm going to face my scariest fears head on over the next few weeks, but hopefully I will come to trust that my mama will never ever put me in an unsafe situation. That kind of trust is very hard for me.
On a much happier note, Mama's and my human friend, Lise, bought me a super wonderful gift. I now have a collar fit for a queen! Now, don't you worry, Sirius Republic. Mama and I will stay faithful to your awesome brand for all my training needs as you have the perfect mix of durability, practicality, and economy, but this treat of a collar from Ella's Lead was the dog equivalent to a diamond necklace. Mama says I am super beautiful in it, and I have to admit that I love it, too, so thank you so very much, Lise, for being one of my best supporters, such a good friend to Mama, and for your amazing generosity. I love my gift so much!