Wednesday, June 24, 2009


Wow, a lot happened today.  

I woke up slightly depressed and missing my cats. I lay in bed thinking this was not really the best mindset to have if I was going to learn how to train Ray. I ate breakfast, read the paper and noticed it was already 8:30. The trainer was supposed to arrive at 9:30 so I quickly showered and took Ray for a walk. 

The trainer arrived right on time. Ray, ignored the knock, but when I went to answer the door he got up to see what kind of wonderful person he was going to meet this time. I let the trainer (Lee) in and Ray, as usual, mouthed his wrists and jumped up (his M.O). Lee explained that this was Ray's way of compensating for his loss of eyesight and that we would try to modify that behavior a bit. He talked to Ray and had him on his back getting a belly rub in about 10 seconds. Ray LOVED Lee. 

We went into the living room to sit. Ray stayed by Lee for awhile, then came over to the couch, jumped up, laid down next to me, and immediately went to sleep. Lee asked me lots of questions about Ray and his behavior and then gave me a very interesting briefing on pack behavior and the training methods he uses. About five minutes into the briefing, Ray started snoring. LOUDLY. I was trying hard not to laugh and I saw a twinkle in the trainer's eyes as he continued his briefing. After about an hour or so, Lee got around to the nitty gritty.
He started with Ray's behavior at the door. Lee showed me how to guide Ray away from the door, take him to a neutral area, make him sit, tell him to stay, then go answer the door. He then demonstrated with Ray.
Lee made Ray sit. The dog flopped over onto his side in relaxed-mode. Lee walked to the door, opened it up, and pretended to talk to someone. Ray stood up with the intention of investigating. The trainer sprayed Ray with a spritz of water, walked back to the dog, made the control noise, and made him sit again. Ray flopped over, totally relaxed once again. Lee went back to the door and pretended to talk to another fictitious visitor. Ray didn't stir. He wasn't fooled. 

Lee asked me to demonstrate. He went outside and knocked at the door. Ray was still flopped out on the floor. I opened the door and Lee, disguising his voice, started talking. Ray, hearing his favorite new person in the whole world, rolled over on his back and exposed his belly for a belly rub. We couldn't get Ray to react at all. 

So we moved on to "come". Lee put a slip collar on Ray and showed me how to get him to come. It worked pretty well, except for when Ray decided to flop over onto his side. Lee showed me how to circumnavigate this behavior and get Ray to come every time.  

Then we went outside so that Lee could show me how to do an exercise to get Ray to always walk behind me. He put a "Halti" on Ray, a muzzle-looking device that goes on over the dog's nose and behind the ears. The leash hooks on underneath the dog's muzzle so that it pulls the dog's head down and provides control. Lee said it usually takes dogs five or ten minutes to get used to it. 
Ray tried to wipe the Halti off of his head and rubbed his face on the grass to get it off (I didn't really blame him, it looked uncomfortable). Then we walked down the street with Ray. I gotta admit, the Halti worked very well. Ray wasn't pulling at all. Lee showed me some more exercises and we moved back into the house to discuss the cat situation. 

We sat into the family room where we have an L-shaped couch. Lee sat on one side and Ray immediately jumped up, laid down, and went to sleep next to Lee. I sat on the other side. After some discussion, Lee asked me to bring down one of the cats. I went upstairs, wrapped Moonie in a towel and brought her down. Ray didn't stir. I held her as close as I could (she was struggling). Ray didn't move. I let Moonie go and she ran back upstairs. More discussion. Upstairs to get Hugo this time. I made it most of the way down the stairs before he got to be too much and I had to let him go. More discussion. I went back up and wrapped Hugo better this time and brought him down. I held him next to Ray and let Hugo smell his tail. No reaction from Ray (he was VERY tired). He was snoring again. I let Hugo go and he hung around for a minute or two then headed out. Still no reaction from Ray. At this point I started to think that Lee might be seriously thinking he's dealing with someone delusional. 

Lee and I discussed the situation, but without Ray's interaction, Lee couldn't really assess Ray's behavior. He gave me a plan of attack, left me with lots of reading material, instructions, a spray water bottle, a couple other training aides, assigned me some training homework, gave me his phone number, told me to call with questions and updates and left. I put Ray outside (he miraculously came alive right after Lee left) and went to buy a Halti and a slip collar (which I couldn't find). 

When I got back, I put the Halti on Ray and went out to take him for a walk around the block. Ray was like a different dog. He was acting like I beat him on a regular basis. His tail was down, his head was down, he walked like a condemned man heading to the gallows. He made it as far as the corner before he put his head on the grass and with his butt sticking up in the air tried to wipe the Halti off of his face. I laughed and pulled him upright, we continued on but I could hear funeral music in my head as Ray walked along next to me at a perfect heel. We made it another block before Ray did the head-in-the-grass-butt-in-the-air face wipe again. I pulled him up and we did another block. Ray was smoking his last cigarette and refusing a blindfold (after all, he didn't really need one). 

We were only about half a block from home when Ray decided he'd had enough. He laid down on his side and refused to move. I pulled his leash and called "come" authoritatively. Ray didn't move. I did it again. And again. Ray just laid there. I pulled so hard I was actually kind of dragging him in the grass. Ray just "looked" at me with his "good" eye. I was beaten. I got down, unhooked the Halti, and using it as part of the leash, I walked him the rest of the way home. He was at a perfect heel the whole time.

to be continued... 

No comments:

Post a Comment