The day started off well, but got a little rocky in the evening.
As many of you know, my father has not yet fully won Marge's approval, to put it mildly. She is leaps and bounds ahead of where she was when I first got her (though he'll never admit to that), but we do still have some problems. Her issues are mostly apparent when he comes home - I've been working extensively to get her to move away from the door when he is coming so that she'll not growl. That's been going well, but she does have her reservations about being too close to him, depending on the situation.
Food, however, changes the entire picture. If he has food, she'll (begrudgingly and anxiously) do anything that he asks. Tonight, he wanted her next to him as he sat on the couch. Despite my obvious disapproval, he chose to do what he wanted, and told Marge to lay down next to him while he intermittently fed her treats. That wouldn't have been terrible, if not for how much he petted her, asked for behaviors, etc. Marge, though not absolutely terror stricken, made it apparent that she was not wholly comfortable.
This, of course, got her hyped up, which, in turn, made her hyped up when my sister and her unassuming math tutor entered after finishing working in the adjacent room. Marge likes the tutor, but, due to the situation, got very nervous when she approached. Her hackles raised and she kept her distance; I did not worry because I know that the tutor never provokes her and mostly ignores her. My dad, on the other hand, ordered her to sit in one spot.
Don't get me wrong, my dad is great, BUT, BUT, BUT, he has the training all wrong with Marge and despite my nearly constant suggestions to him or criticism of his behavior, it has not changed. And, it likely will not change. He simply doesn't view Marge's issues the same way I do. I'm the person trying to change or manage these behaviors so my dog and I can go out and have fun. He's the person saying that Marge is Marge and her attitudes about various things cannot be altered. It's a different generation, a different mindset.
Later on, we headed out for a walk. I think it was doomed from the start. I should have known that I'd wind up analyzing every little behavioral response by Marge, linking it subconsciously to the prior dad/tutor/hackles situation, which was ultimately started by my dad, in my opinion, and deeming the day a massive failure.
It wasn't an awful walk - but I felt like Marge was reacting to tiny little things, turning her head to listen to various noises, and all that kind of stuff. As a result, I wound up walking longer than I originally anticipated, looking for that "perfect point" where Marge looked happy and engaged and 100% perfect - not just satisfactory or good, but perfect - to turn around for home. Though the tail end of the walk was actually pretty good, I know that I both walked too far and handled some situations incorrectly.
When we have these days where the cards just seem to continually come crashing down, even if it's just little things adding up, it's hard to think of everything in perspective. Yes, she started out at rock bottom and now is much better. But, when we encounter some bumps along the way, I begin to worry that we'll start crashing down again, for real, like we did over the summer. And that is my biggest flaw. Just like my dog, I can be a terrific worrier.
Fortunately, Marge and I went home and had the most super-positive happy and amazing agility/rally practice in the back yard. I think it was the best thing we could have done.
We'll start all over again tomorrow. What other choice do we have?