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Tuesday, August 2, 2011

16 Things at 16 Months (Late)

Alright, so I know I said I would do this tomorrow, but I have absolutely nothing to do right now as I'm sitting at my Mom's in LA (oh, didn't I tell you? Hilly and I took the train and bus to LA and tomorrow we head up to Oregon for the Shakespeare festival) so I decided to do it now.

I thought I would so something a little different for my transfer girl. I want to talk about how much she's progressed in the month and a half, but I also want to talk about how much more she's got to go until I can definitely say "She's ready." or "I think she can do it." Since 16 is a nice round, even number here is what I'm going to do; a half and half. Eight of these things will be things that she's improved on in the past month and the other eight are things that she must improve on in the next month. Those which she has improved on will be even numbers (they will also be coloured in BLUE) and the things that still need work will be odd numbers (which will also be coloured in ORANGE).

16 Things at 16 Months:

1. Whining. Hilly no longer barks when she hears dogs that she doesn't see, but she still whines. It's a ridiculously cute whine but it's still gotta go.

2. Hackling. I'm so proud of Hilly on this. She used to start hackling (for those of you who don't know, hackling is when the hair near the top of the dog's front legs stands up and sometimes the hair at the base of the tail will stand up too) when she first saw a dog and they would stay up for quite a while. Now, her hackles only go up when we pass the dog and go back down real quick.

3. Leash Corrections. Hilly still needs to listen to the leash better. When she knows what she wants she'll go after it no matter what I do. She's gotten better at "listening" to the head collar, but it's not ideal. (At least I'll have a really buff left arm)

4. Walking Past Dogs. Whenever we saw another dog on our morning walk we would go to the side and stop. I'd have Hilly sit there as we watched the dog go past. Now, we can walk past dogs about... three feet to the side. She's still not at right next to the dog, but I think she can get there.

5. Walking Past Dogs. While she's gotten a lot better during morning walks I think it's because it's in a familiar place. She still needs to work on going past other dogs that she doesn't know in an odd place like a store or mall or place she doesn't expect them.

6. Being Calm. Hilly is just astounding me at how far she's come in this category. Remember when I told you that she stimulated very easily? Well, now there can be lots of noise, a dog, and a fast moving object and she will stay *kind of sort of* calm.

7. Getting Back to Calm. While Hilly has made strides in staying calm sometimes she looses herself. When she does lose herself, it takes her a while to get back to that calm that I'm so proud of.

8. Keeping a Steady Pace. This is something that gave me the most annoyance when I first got her. Walking during a morning walk she would near tear my arm off. When we were out in a store she would go at a snail's pace. I thought this was boredom and/or unhappiness. It's not that she's unhappy at least. Now, we have more of a consistency between walking and working.

9. Controlling her Sniffer. Hilly really likes to smell. For a normal dog, this is fine. For a Guide Dog...it's not so fine. We don't want her pulling her future blind partner *hopefully* over to a lamp post to sniff the smells when she's suppose to be Guiding the person. So, we're working on that.

10. Focus. Gosh! I was so worried that she would never get focused. Now, she checks in regularly which is lovely.

11. Going Down Stairs. Going up stairs she's a pro. Going down stairs she decides that she needs to drag me down in a high speed trot.

12. Pooping. Finally! Got her on a schedule and with no bad tummies!

13. Recall. Ok, so this might have been partly my fault but her recall has gotten pretty terrible when off leash...but only outside. She'll come every time when she's off leash in the house. I think it's because of Rosie and her tendency to run full speed into Hilly as she's coming to me which causes Hilly to forget what she was doing. We've been working on it and she's doing better, but she's still got a while to go when I call "Come!" and she needs to decide between me and the interesting smell/toy/Rosie.

14. Trotting. Ok, this isn't something that she ever needed work on, but it's something I absolutely love about her. She trots like a pony.

15. Picking up Stuff. Ok...so she doesn't pick up things that don't belong to her...often. When she does she brings them to me. It doesn't happen every day. But she does like to bring me some weird things (tune in for tomorrow morning's post).

16. Dogs in General (both good and bad). Here's the scoop. Hilly really has gotten a lot better with her dog distractions...but, she's got such a long way to go. Sometimes, it seems like she's really gotten it. Other times, like today, she's like that dog I picked up from the puppy truck over a month ago. It's hard for me to say right now. At this exact moment...I don't know if she can become a Guide. She's ready to go back for training, but I'm so worried that she'll have a relapse...kind of like what she had today, when she gets to somewhere new.

I've still got about a month with her and I really hope that she gets it. She will...

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