Monday, January 7, 2008

Starting the Sydney Scorecard

OK, so Syd was pretty ugly to her sister and Savannah this morning. I opted to bring her to work with me yesterday and take her for a walk over lunch. Not a loose dog on a flexi type walk. A "listen to your mother, you need to be wherever I am" kind of walk. She did really well on the walk, and behaved like a good girl. As a reward, I did put her on the flexi at the end and tossed her rope toy a few times so she could de-stress. One step forward.

As we returned home yesterday after work, I opened the front door slightly, then in my customary fashion, I slipped off Syd's lead so that she would be free to go into the house, as it's always a tangle of dog tripping me up if I don't. For the first time ever, Syd backed up really quick after a half-step into the house, and took off down the street. I just about could not believe it, she has always been reliable running from the van to the front door, usually standing on the porch barking at me if I'm not quick enough to let her in. argh. I grabbed a bag of treats and headed down the street. I don't know what she thought was out there, but she was sniffing, then hopping, alert about a big evergreen bush about 4 houses down the road. Of course it's almost dark, and the shadows might have been teasing her, who knows. Usually the word "COOKIE" is enough to bring the entire herd running. But Syd was absolutely pre-occupied, and I could not get her attention at all. Very strange, and un-Syd-like. She might be naughty, but she always comes to me for treats and toys. Finally I was able to get close enough so she could smell the treat I had in my extended hand. She came back to the real world, and I scooped her up and carried her home. She didn't seem to be acting strangely at all once I picked her up. One step back.

When we got to the house, everyone else was outside in the back yard. I put Syd on the leash and took her out front for potty. Then put her in her crate to bring in everyone and begin the evening supper ritual. Heat up the chicken and sweet potatoes, get out yogurt, pro-biotic, kelp, supplements, and various other things for each dog's ailments. It takes a while to get everything portioned out and ready to go for the herd. Sydney and Breezy are crated next to each other in wire crates in the kitchen. I use the tops of their crates to set out all the food bowls and prepare their supper. Usually it's a good thing, as they are the happy recipients of anything that I accidentally slop over the edge of a bowl, or chicken pieces that fling off the fork. Last night, Syd was in rare form, and I heard her start to rumble and stare at her sister for no apparent reason. Breezy was laying in her crate, back to Syd, so I don't know what the initial start of the rumbling was. And with Syd, it doesn't really matter what starts it, once she starts, she has a hard time stopping. I opened her crate door to remove her from the situation, and she started posturing at Bree, who was still not facing Syd at all. At that point, I decided Syd was not entitled to the yummy supper festivities, and I escorted her out the back door without a word or a look. Another step back.

Supper proceeded without incident, and all the dogs happily at their home cooked dinner. Syd was bouncing against the back door, and barking to insist she come inside. I waited until she was merely whining under her breath and laying at the door. I greeted her with the slip lead, and let her into the kitchen with me. I had put her home cooked food in a container in the fridge, and got out a small amount of kibble instead. I brought Syd back in the house on her leash, and she stood in the kitchen, with Kane in the vicinity. Syd had to work for her kibble, sit-down-stand-back-watch, no kibble without performing a behavior that I asked for. And, if I gave a down command and the ever-obedient Kane did a down lickety split, I gave him the piece of kibble, which irked Syd to no end. The looks she gave, from Kane then back to me. Syd loves to work, and I'm going to use that to our advantage (I hope). She did all manner of cute behaviors for her supper, and it ended on a good note. The last few bites I got out some of the chicken, and when she did a really fast down, or a balanced stand, she got a jackpot of chicken instead of kibble. Finally, a step forward. Hmm, it seems like we are back to ground zero, in terms of steps. I think that will be typical as we work through this issue. I'll take every bit of forward motion Sydney can muster.