My favorite things to write about usually involve my family or my dogs, and tonight you’ll get a bit of both!
Dog “good things” first (it actually started off as a “bad thing”, but it’s getting better): I’ve been working with Bear all week to help him overcome his fear of loading into the SUV we purchased last week. At first it was absolute refusal, meaning Ted had to come outside and bodily lift him in. Then when I got wherever I was going with him and was ready to re-load, I had to find someone strong enough to haul an 80-lb golden into the car for me. I was not a happy camper, since I basically changed cars for the express purpose of making said 80-lb golden a happy camper. With as many miles as we hope to rack up with our Delta Society Pet Partner volunteer work (80 miles round trip just to get into Albany, before we even start driving from site to site), I knew that the seemingly 2″-wide Honda Civic backseat just wasn’t going to cut it for the Bearster.
So yesterday and today – three times a day – I’ve put his leash on him, walked him to the SUV, and tried various methods of getting him inside. And we finally hit on one that works! I’ve given up for the moment the idea that he will ride in the cargo area at the very back – I think the trauma of being that far away from my shoulder – where he is usually resting his head – is just not going to be tolerated. So, I open the back door on one side, loop the end of Bear’s leash around the headrest, ask him to “stay”, then walk around to the other back door. I open that, reach in and unloop his leash, then call him to “come”. He jumps right in (probably thinking he will just jump out the side where I’m standing). But instead, I’m standing there with lots of praise and hugs AND his favorite dog treat! The first few times we did this, I had to then loop the leash around the headrest on that side so I could close the door and go around and close the other door before he jumped back out. Now I can just tell him to “stay” once he’s in. In six attempts, he had pretty much conquered getting in, which was wonderful.
Now we have a second problem. Once we’re in, and we’re on the road, he wants to climb into the front seat with me, sprawl across the console, and put his head in my lap. Well, that isn’t going to work either. Today, I opened the console, and it provided a barrier between the two front seats, and that semi-worked, except he kept trying to come over it. Since it’s not anchored, I had to put my arm across it to give some steadiness. So right now I’m searching catalogs for some kind of barrier made to keep dogs from climbing between the seats. I’ve found a couple, and if we can’t stop the problem in the next day or so with positive reenforcement, I might have to order one.
Oh, the other thing I did was this. Each time he loaded, we’d take a little ride down the road to a big field, where we’d get out and play with the tennis ball. Whenever he’s traveled exclusively with me, he’s usually going either to the vet or to the groomers. On the other hand, he thinks loading into Ted’s truck means we’re heading either to Mackinac Island for the summer, or to Arkansas to see the grandchildren – both major FUN things in his book. I wanted him to know that not ALL car trips with mom end with baths or needles.
All in all, I’m VERY pleased that Bear has responded to several short work sessions and gotten past what could have turned into a major problem with transporting him. He is such a smart, sweet Bear Boy!
Another Bear item – on one of those practice sessions today, we went into Cordele for his Pet Partner physical, which he also passed with flying colors. All that remains now is to get Ted to snap a digital photo of the two of us. I will email that to Delta Society, where it will be used for our official badges (I will wear mine – Bear’s will be attached to his collar). When we start working the hospitals, we’ll have official hospital ID badges also. I am SO impressed with Delta Society and the professionalism of the national, state, and local organizations.
Now family good things!
While Blake was here for a week over Thanksgiving, he ventured beyond the seawall and walked out over the mud of our beach to capture some photos from a different perspective than we are used to getting. Blake is quite the photographer (his photographs from all over Asia are unbelievable, and I will try to share some with you soon). Here are a few he snapped last week at the ri’vah.
One more family “good thing”, and it involves Blake also. The company that sent Blake to China the first time (right after college – and before seminary) is flying him out to their headquarters in Ft. Collins, Colorado on Sunday. They have a position open for a recruiter – someone who will travel to college campuses across the US to encourage other young Christian men and women to make the commitment to serve at least one year in China – teaching there. He wouldn’t be living in the South, and it would involve a lot of air travel (which Blake is not overly fond of), but if the position is offered, he will think very strongly about accepting. Prayers lifted for all of this would be so appreciated by Blake – and me.
Have a wonderful weekend, God bless, and I’ll be back on Monday with more “good things”, good Lord willing.
P.S. If you’d like to watch the lighting of the Mackinac Island Christmas tree, you can do that this afternoon (Friday) at 5:30 p.m. Click on the following link, then scroll down the menu to “Mackinac Island Tourism Bureau”. Enjoy! http://www.mackinaclive.com