Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Tayja wants a puppy


When she returned here to live after a 6 month absence, Tayja was afraid of everything - including dogs. And it did not help the Red bit her for crawling on him her very first day home. Someone asked how I got her over her fear of dogs. I haven't. Tayja is still afraid of dogs. But it is getting better slowly.

I gave her all the *dog* chores - getting the meat out of the freeze to thaw; weighing, recording and presenting the dogs breakfast; collecting kongs, inspecting them for chew damage and putting them in the dish washer; passing out peanut butter kongs; washing, filling and monitoring water bowls; putting dog beds in the washer and dryer.

Tayja does the basic dog related busy work. She gets to pick which treats to buy and when during the day to pass them out. She gets to pick which package of bones to buy. She decided what tricks I should train and offers suggestions on how to train. "Treat more! Talk less!"

Tayja was *very* afraid of both our dogs. She didn't even want to be
in the same room as Red. She's scream if he came near her even with
the gate between them. We talked daily about just pretending to be
brave if that what it takes to do something that scares you. She took
it to heart.

We also talked about how she and Blue use to sleep together and about
how it must hurt Blue's feelings that she will not play with her. So
Tayja would sit on one sit of a baby gate and Blue would sit on the
other and Tayja would read to Blue. We were fairly quickly able to
remove the gate for reading. I think it is hard for Blue to see the
pictures with the baby gate, I said. Tayja agreed.

She is still afraid of Red and stays away from him if he is laying on
his mat. She will let him in and out, walk him (with me) and pet him
if he approaches her. She asks him to sit before she will do anything
for him. She will not hand anything to him directly, allow him in her
room or pet him anywhere near his mouth. She tells him in a very
loving voice, "You are a bad, bad dog, Red, but I'll pet you anyway. I
hurt you so you bit me. I love you but I don't like you."

To start the dogs were outside while she did dog chores. Then they
were nearby but baby-gated out of the area where we were working. Then
Blue was on a down stay in the general area while Red was gated
somewhere within sight. Then both dogs were on down stays. Now for
breakfast, the dogs are in the kitchen watching the food prep, Tayja
sends each dog to their eating station, asks for a sit or a down,
delivers the food (Red gets his first as he is *much* better at not
eating until released that Blue), and tells the dogs to eat.

To help her get over her fear of all dogs, I have been taking Tayja, 5
years old, to some of my puppy classes. She started out in an ex pen
while the puppies had run of the room. Now she plays with the puppies
and helps teach. She was a great little assistant. Someone handed her
their dog while they cleaned up and accident and she did not bat an
eye. I watched her show some one how to lure their puppy up the slant
board. The dog owner was amazed. "It's okay to lure three times. Okay.
Wait for the puppy to try," Tayja said.

Now when I train at home she wants to train too. She is working on
stationary positions with Blue on the right and the left, hand touches
with both dogs and heeling on the right and left with Blue. She gave
up on getting Blue to hold an Orange on her nose. "Blue's nose is too
pointy for oranges. Maybe an apple. Apples have a bottom," she said.
She has added letting Blue in and out to her chore list and is
learning to clean Blue's feet.

Tayja told me to take down the baby gates. (Except we do put one up
when she is in the shower as Tayja is still afraid to be in the
bathroom by herself with the door closed. If the door is open and
Tayja is in the shower, Blue joins her. What a mess!)

We went to a couple of agility trails to watch the junior handlers.
The first time Tayja was freaked out by all the dogs growling, barking
and tugging. Then she started watching and asking questions.

"Why can't you just teach the dogs to read the numbers and go to the
right thing?"

"Why is that lady mad at her Border Collie? The dog went there she pointed."

"Is that dog peeing on the tunnel because she yelled at him?"

"If I am running and turn left will Blue turn too?"

"That dog doesn't like it. Because he's going slow and snifing at stuff."

"Dogs are faster than people because dogs have four legs and we only
have two. Why can some of the dogs and people finish at the same
time?'

"How do you teach the dogs to be brave on the seesaw? I don't think
Blue would be brave up there and she doesn't know how to pretend to be
brave."

Studying the ring at an outdoor trail that was made out of the posts
used for electric fences strung together with caution tape, Tayja
asked, "How do you get the dogs to stay in the ring if a squirrel
walks by? I don't think Blue would come back."

This past weekend it was the 4H annual state dog event. We watched
short people, some even her size, run in showmanship, agility and
obedience. Tayja liked the agility best but thought Blue would win the
showmanship because she is the prettiest dog in MN.

Now Tayja wants a puppy of her own. Sigh. She is torn between a
Dalmatian with brown spots and a "big" kind of tan poodle. She already
has the name picked out "Violet, because Red and Blue together makes
purple and violet is just like purple."

2 comments:

Holly said...

awwww, what a KID! She is the best! And lucky too, to have someone so deeply invested in her welfare.

You go Robin! You rock.

Julie said...

Hi Robin,

I am so happy Tayja is back with you and Roxana. what the heck happened to her in that six months that she cam eback scared of dogs? Never mind. Time to move on and thank God she is with two of the most awesome people on Earth!