Yesterday I worked Jai in DDs small pasture. It was foggy, like my head.
I hadn't seen Jai in almost a week. I had been out of town for work and left her with DD because my home is like a crackhouse, figuratively speaking, with my spouse letting dogs eat directly from his mouth and ride in cars up and down boulevards barking at everyone who makes eye contact; place 1-900 calls to cats…. It's better for our Longterm Goals for Jai to be in a more stable environment than chasing balls repetitively and sleeping in 700 thread count sheets with 6 other dogs and a man who can't say No unless it preceeds 'Katy'. When I'm home things are a little more controlled and we sleep on flannel sheets.
Anyway. I expected that when I picked Jai up she'd fall all over herself and me with the raw unfiltered happiness of being reunited with the Center of Her Universe. I pictured how calm I'd be – stoic, really; demo to DD my firm hand of control. Yes, I missed the dog, and was excited to work, but the most important thing was that she Respect my Leadership and not lose her dignity in the moment. We'd start things off right. Then we'd go out into the pasture and work and miracles would occur because they always do in my head and DD would actually shed real tears and ask my advice on how she can turn one of her nigglesome training issues around because obviously I Get It. I'd say, Yeah, maybe later…and then…as I sauntered into the pasture I wouldn't fall over a burm. DD wouldn't laugh. My dog and the sheep would, under my guidance, fall into some heretofore illusive Rightness.
I wore shoes that do not tie. Boots. I walked into DDs shop and, as she let her group of dogs out, I went to Jai's crate, calmly. Then ….channeling someone else's high strung aunt, I cried,
"JAI-BIRD!!! MOMMY'S BACK!!!"
When I opened Jai's crate she darted out, as in my vision, but she kept going, past me and out the shop door and into the yard with the other dogs. A single tear and stream of bad language happened as DD said, sensitively, as always,
"I never let her rush in front of me like that. That isn't good…. You need to make her stay behind you…when she tried that crap with me I threw a can at her and that worked…"
Meanwhile, I could not decide if Jai was having kibble for dinner, or I was taking her out for all you can eat meat buffet… Zamzow's celebrated Yappy Hour… A ball game. Would she prefer 710 thread count cotton? My inner Calm Authoritarian was getting high off of my spleen fumes.
Eventually I stuffed the frankly borderline apathetic Jai into her crate in my car and we left. We didn't work dogs as it got to be too late and my fantasies looked more like cartoon squirrels chasing eachother than anything I could use in training. DD and I drank wine instead. I pretended I didn't care,
"Did she seem to miss me? Should I call next time and have you hold up the phone to her enormous ears?"
DD stared, wordless. Ignoring me. Poured more wine. Suggested that I come back and work the following day.
So, yesterday we worked in the pasture. It was foggy. Jai was, as always, pretty easy to work, except she gripped no less than 3 times. Gripping is not a new behavior; she's pretty predictable. She will grip when sheep won't move, especially with added pressure, which in this case was the fog. When she is contemplating The Grip, she slows way down and her stare intensifies, her movements become like swimming in thick oil.
"When she slows down like that and does that cadgy movement…she's going to grip. You need to call her to you."
Still, I get confused when I should let her grip because the important thing is that she goes in, finally, instead of staying way off, and when it's time to intercede. Her issue is confidence, not gripping. I don't want her to grip unless its necessary, or one of the sheep seems unpopular. Like a sheep who should be shunned…some of them are just, frankly, unattractive…some seem snooty, like they are asking for it.
"Do you see what I'm saying?" DD asks.
Sometimes, though instead I say 'Yes'…. She has that can somewhere.
I think I let EVERYONE rush in front of me, by the way. I think I'm finally going to start carrying a purse, like most women; a hard plastic purse full of rocks, instead of 'stuff, random feminine things' …. I will rattle it in warning. It seems to work with Jai…
Next trial is January, hopefully. We'll be ready. We will win. Totally.