Flashback Friday: A Trip to New York

I have had to make the difficult decision to retire Greta in the past couple weeks. She has cataracts that are obscuring her vision, and her lumbo-sacro stenosis (a progressive narrowing of the spine where it meets her sacrum that causes nerve compression) has reached a point that make continued training physically uncomfortable for her and potentially unsafe for me.

Because of our history and my determination to rehabilitate her mental health, I have struggled with feelings of failure and exposing myself to malicious “I told you so’s,” which have so far only happened inside my head. I’ll write more about this, since it is a big decision and there are a lot of questions around it, but right now I just need to say it, and then let it sit for a little while. So…more on that later.

Original Post Date: 6/15/2023

Last night the remaining students, a couple of trainers, and the on-duty nurse went to dinner to celebrate the fast-approaching end to our training. It was an enjoyable evening of good food, competent and respectful staff, and two amusing puppy shenanigans.

One dog somehow got unclipped from his leash, but his excitement at new-found freedom was short-lived. The nurse caught him before he could catch the zoomies and race about. And Prada? Somehow she caught the back-strap of her harness on the bottom support bar of my chair, under which she was resting during the meal. I must have fastened the girth strap more loosely than usual, because as she wriggled free of the bar she actually wriggled free of her harness!

When I felt her sit up harness-less under the table I thanked God I still had a hand on her leash and managed to get her re-harnessed and re-stowed without incident.

Today we drove into NYC for a lesson in the Big Apple. There’s nothing quite like downtown Manhattan for distraction training and testing a team’s O&M skills. We drove into the city, rode the subway from Port Authority to a station near Times Square, and tackled the crowds with gusto.

Prada handled the organized chaos like the pro she’s about to be. She ignored people, sirens, pets on leashes, horse-drawn carriages around Central Park, and even a pair of k9 units. I do suspect her of flirting a little with the police dogs, but her seduction techniques were limited to prancing and pricking her ears and tail up. Her work didn’t suffer for lack of whatever modicum of attention she spared for preening in their presence.

As we passed through Central Park, a little pug on an extendable leash rushed at Prada, yapping insistently for her attention. She ignored him until he leapt at her. Then she stopped, turned, and uttered one single low-throated “woof,” sending the little punk scampering back to his human. Brian told me later that the lady on the other end of the pug’s leash yelled at us, but I was so over-stimulated and trying to focus on Prada that I didn’t notice.

Anyway, both teams executed the route successfully, and the TSE vans returned with the same number of people and dogs they had left with. Because the NYC trip is so taxing on both students and dogs, it’s the only lesson we’ll have today. I am hoping for a short night trip tonight, though. With the afternoon to recover, I’m sure we’ll be ready.

Today your favorite blindfluencer asks that you remember that over-stimulation is a common barrier to learning. Be kind to your nervous system for better results.

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