This weekend was an eventful one for the pups. On Saturday, Maizy made her glorious return to therapy dogging by working at the local library again. We had 4 kids signed up to read to her and she was so so so good. I had bought an extra copy of Demo and brought that along to donate to the library in Maizy's name, so hopefully she will be hearing that story soon! On Saturday we heard part of a Goosebumps story about worms, and The Cat in the Hat Comes Back read by siblings. We also heard Hooray for Fly Guy! about a fly who plays football. The last one was read by a grandmother because the child was disabled and could not read. He did like dogs, though, and he REALLY liked football! Maizy was an angel the whole time we were at the library, so I was proud of her. She was especially adorable while resting her head in a little girl's lap and looking up at her as she read. She is a nice dog.
On Sunday, Probert had his first ever day of school! I took him over for a private session with our favorite trainer, Rendy from Anything is Pawsible. Professional training is part of the program laid out to manage Probert's anxiety by his vet and our session was really productive! We worked on desensitizing him to the Halti, staying with distractions, saying hello, and got a lot of great tips about how to manage some of his more difficult behaviors. Probert warmed right up to Rendy, which was adorable. It was interesting to me to notice how when she tried to get him to play with a toy, he would get excited about her excitement, but not know what she expected him to do with a ball or a rope. Sometimes at home he will pick up a toy and carry it for a second, but he always drops it. He doesn't really understand how to play. I get so used to it, but to be reminded of it is so sad. Then again, I have to remember that this is the same dog who used to move as far away as possible and then flatten himself to the ground every time a car drove by while we were on walks and I know that he has come so far. There's still more work to do, but he can definitely do it.
So, we have a lot to work on and so far, the work at home has been going well. Probert is a smart little dog. I also had some good conversation with Rendy about our decision to medicate Probert which reinforces that we did the right thing. Looking at him now as compared to pre-medication, I could not be happier with our decision. The medication has clearly freed up some space in his mind to work on being a dog without the incessent anxiety and fear. And as Rendy said, "You clearly have not turned this dog into a coffee table." :)
Here is a video of one of Probert's favorite "games," and probably the only one he has figured out how to play. I like it because you can hear all of his snuffling to find the treats. This game is called "Find It" and I throw little treats into the rug for Probert and Maizy to find (they do this well together and the competition keeps them working, but I wouldn't do this with a dog who resource guards from other dogs). The rug hides them enough that they use their noses more than their eyes. They didn't get this game at first, so I contained it to one side of the rug, then expanded slowly. Now we can play this game on the big living room rug or I can start to move treats off the rug into other parts of the kitchen (you'll see in the video that one rolls away and Maizy digs it out from under the counter). This method of slow expansion has worked well to make sure that everyone "gets" what the goal is. Let me know if there are other variations that you play with your dog!