Friday, February 19, 2010

Misty Morning

Yesterday, Kona and I took it easy on a mini ridge hike. I noticed during our run to the Flats that my ankle brace was hitting my heel strangely. After spraining and then re-tweaking my ankle a couple extra times, I don't have enough lateral support in my joint to trail run. If my ankle starts to turn, I can't catch it. Luckily, I found a great brace that is ridged enough to stop lateral movement in my ankle, but also has a joint on it so I can run without a problem.

When the weather heated up, I ditched my heavy weight backpacking socks, but losing that cushion left my brace to hit my heel and left me with a blister. So Kona and I took a rest yesterday and were ready for a peak run this morning.

Kona is much more relaxed on the climb of this trail than she was last summer. Previously, she wouldn't stop at all until we reached the top for official "sniff hour." In recent months she has been relaxed enough to stop along the way up.

I took advantage of her breaks to enjoy the low clouds that began to surround us. The higher we ran, the more the sky blanketed us.

Whenever Kona finished sniffing, she would look up to examine the canyon below us and the hillside to our east.

When we reached the top, the mountains directly in our path became invisible from the moving mist.

Kona hesitated before leading me to her favorite sniff spots.While Kona's confidence shows on our way up, she still has a hard time on the descent of this trail. She starts out loose and eager, but once we're down to the one mile marker, she tenses up. I don't know what gets to her exactly. I think it's a combination of being able to see and hear the city noises, running into more people, and perhaps anticipating the street we're heading towards. Whatever it is, she's not happy on this stretch.

She refused treats when we got close to the street. I was glad that I didn't have to hold tension on her leash the entire time. I have to keep her close and be ready to respond if she dashes, but I was able to put tension on her lead when she made fearful pulls, but then relax as soon as she stopped.

I want to help her with these trail to street transitions. (Thanks Sara for pointing out the significance of transition times.) After I got her secured in her crate, I spent just a minute or two sitting next to her with the car door open. As Sam suggested, I fed her treats while we watched cars and people go by. I think this will be the start of a new routine for us.

On the Training Front
We skipped out on yesterday's CGC class as another field trip was scheduled. We only have one more class until test day! Our plan for Kona is just to see how many of the tests we can do. Depending on how she responds to the examiner approaching her (he's a man she's never met...not the best set-up), I may tell the examiner to skip the sit for petting and handling tests.

Maybe it's bad, but I feel good about Kona's comfort level with strangers. She's perfectly fine when they ignore her and even at home, where she becomes territorial, she settles down much more quickly than she use to. She does need to be safe with people when she has to be handled, and when the unexpected extended hand flies over her head. But, I don't think she's missing out on life if she never becomes at ease with handling by strangers or stays aloof around people she doesn't know. Oh how my outlook has changed over time!


Life With Dogs said...

I think you are right on - it sounds like escaping the noise pollution of society is very good for Kona...

Sara said...

It is good you have realistic outlook for your dog. Not all dogs have to lead "labrador lives" to be happy. Hey, I'm not all that crazy about strangers myself.

I laughed at your comment about bringing a laser light therapy team with me for some counter conditioning. If it increases seratonin levels, I bet it would be quite useful for dogs with stress issues. If only it were more portable!

Kathy said...

WOW, Kona is lucky to have sound very respectful and wise....I always wonder why everyone thinks that all dogs have to love being handled by who ever. I only like certain people grabbing me and there is no reason for me to be comfortable with everyone and anyone grabbing me, LOL. Like you said a combo of helping the dog feel comfortable with what is necessary for safety, and otherwise using management sure seems like a common sense approach. The pictures are GORGEOUS-thanks for checking out our blog!

Sam said...

Good for you for skipping the field trip at CGC class. You sound like you're so in tune to her and are really figuring her out.

I got lucky with my evaluator for the CGC because she was a woman. If it was a man, I would have had some trouble.

Transition times are something that I know bothers Lilly at Champion of My Heart, so you might want to look back in her old training posts. I've learned so much from that blog.

KB said...

I think that it's amazing how much regular outings away from the city bond a human and a dog. I have some crazy ideas as to why but, the truth is, it just makes a very deep bond. The bond becomes even deeper when the human starts listening to the dog (e.g., watching what Kona is curious about, checking it out with her).

It sounds like the two of you have made amazing strides. And, Kona sure is a fit and beautiful dog!