March 2, 2010

A Thousand Laser Pointers

Unpredictability. It's one of the most intriguing things about service puppy raising. Taking Ruby to places where I could not take a pet dog is teaching me a tremendous amount in regard to seeing the human world through a dog's eyes. I'm learning to anticipate my surroundings in a very different way than if I were alone.

We were at a store with a section for musical instruments and I thought a visit would be good for some auditory practice. It never occurred to me that the sights in a music store could upstage the sounds. But of course they could. I didn't see it coming, literally or figuratively, but the store had a disco ball.

You know the effect a laser pointer has on most dogs and cats; they'll chase that microscopic dot to the point of madness. Young Kiva was an addict till we chucked that thing out the window, and once it was gone, I forgot all about it. Until here we are ten years later, Ruby and I turn a corner, get hit with the frying pan, and we're seeing stars EVERYWHERE.

Of course, my split second instinct was, OH SH(insertvowelhere)T. Ruby saw this hallucinogenic kaleidoscope on the walls, ceiling, floor, me, herself, and she instantly became...let's just say, DERANGED.



(I know. I'm using a lot of caps. IT WAS A CAPS KIND OF MOMENT. The pictures don't do it justice because the flash kind of bleached those buggers out, but trust me. Just...trust me.)



When she first hurled herself tail over teacups at the dots, I wasn't quite sure what to do, and to be honest, I was slightly worried about her trashing all that expensive equipment. But sometimes the best training opportunities are the ones you don't expect...aren't prepared for...hadn't anticipated...tremendously wish you had thought of... and I realized that I knew exactly what I had to do to get my dog's attention. I grabbed the clicker and spoke her name. She ignored me and I spoke it again. The very instant she paid me even a fraction of a second of attention, I clicked and gave her a treat. I spoke her name again, she hesitated, I clicked/treated her again. After a few click/treats, even though the dots were still flying, I had her.



And once I knew I could get her attention here at Studio 54 Best Buy, I wanted to begin to teach her how to deal with this calmly. I took a seat; we were going to be here awhile.





Below, no flash. A little blurry, but you can tell that the dots were very bright and very fast. Trippy and zippy!




I've learned a lot from these past two surprise situations (here and at PetSmart). Calmness travels down the leash just as much as nerves do.

I'm also gaining confidence that no matter where we are, or how unexpected the situation, as long as she's safe (and as long as no one is throwing us out), we can just take the time we need to see it through, together.

14 comments:

bowsnhearts said...

I love your saying, "Calmness travels down the leash." That's so very true!!

Heather and Ellie said...

I would love to see what Ellie's reaction to those dots would be. She too likes moving things.....

Lori Jablons said...

You are a brave and patient woman. The way you handled this is a good lesson for everyone, no matter how many legs they walk on. :)

Anonymous said...

I was laughing out loud at work while reading this. Good exercise! I guess my lesson was to read your blog at home...

The OP Pack said...

Calmness travels down the leash - something I so need to learn, especially when we are out walking and come upon a loose dog. We love seeing you do your training sessions with Ruby. Great job!!!

Kari in WeHo said...

oh my! I never thought abotu how a dog would react to a disco ball

Clive said...

Very well done on a great job with Ruby. I love the comment 'calmness travels down the leash'.

- Murray's Mom

Khyra The Siberian Husky And Sometimes Her Mom said...

I think woo have a hit on your paws with 'khalmness travels down the leash'

Thanks again fur sharing more of your learning AND Ruby's!

Hugz&Khysses,
Khyra & Khousin Merdie

1000 Goldens said...

You are seriously the best dog Mom. I love that you sat down and worked with her so patiently. You're my hero Ruby Raiser :)

The Thundering Herd said...

I can seriously see the puppy brain exploding at trying to decide which point of light to chase. makes you really wonder what they "see"

Carly Findlay said...

Heheh too cute and funny!
I love how inquisitive dogs are.
Ruby will be a riot at a disco!

My Toby and Jazz concentrate so hard when they see something on the ground. Toby often has a furrowed brow when he goes digging in the shrubs for lizards - I call it lizarding. They have not yet been to a disco.

Toby- The dog with a blog said...

So funny, it looks like you guys ended on a good note:)

"Dots" are a dogs "best" friend!

Rachel said...

Awesome post! That little girl is well on her way... if she can learn to ignore that... she can ignore anything.

Sierra Rose said...

What a trip Ruby! A trip to the music store that is. Great work yet again on recovering some of that classic puppy energy! My mom would need some super high value treats to refocus me, I am sure of it!

Hugs and snaggle-tooth kisses,
Sierra Rose