Friday, August 21, 2009

Missing in August

The MargeBlog posts have been so infrequent this month, and believe me, it isn't because I'm lazy or unwilling to update.

We have a whole load of NOTHING going on.

Our summer has been positively craptastic, following a rough Fourth of July week and a subsequent two months of scary sights and sounds.  I can literally count the canine highlights of this summer on my hands.

Marge has pretty much spent the last week, except for our visit to Petsmart, doing absolutely nothing.  Agility was cancelled this week, and it has been in the high 80s and even 90s with tons of humidity to bog us down even further.  If she walks for a half hour every day, that's a lot.  Between heat, humidity, thunderstorms, fear, the summer.. it's just impossible to stay outside for longer than that.

Tomorrow, I have a similar predicament.  My dog club is having its annual NADAC trial, which I helped to set up today, in fact.  I would like to go tomorrow for a while to see some people and dogs that I know who will be competing.

The question though, is: to Marge, or not to Marge?

I'm really split as to whether I should bring her or not.  That was the plan all along, but I'm just so scared of going 5 steps backward.  I can see the picture in my head clearly.. having her slink around, visibly unhappy to be there, wanting to wander off and soak away her troubles in the nearby pond, where there is not a soul in sight.  I know I shouldn't be thinking so negatively before I even get there, but that's easier said than done when you have a dog who can be potentially scared if the wind blows the wrong way or a sound is too loud or a man comes too close.  

At the same time, though, if we are ever to compete, she will need to be at such trials.  We will likely only hang around the perimeter of the set-up, staying away from the vendors, tents and the population of people that comes with them.  I should at least know how she'll react to being there, and it could quite possibly not be as bad as I think.

To throw yet another curveball in, the chance of precipitation for tomorrow is 80%, with thunderstorms in the forecast.  If the thunderstorms tomorrow are anything like the ones today, Marge will undoubtedly be happiest in my kitchen, with the radio on, getting kibble thrown at her, rather than in the middle of a huge field.

Guess we'll just see what happens.

Oh, and as a final note, I spoke with my vet's office today to check in with them about these fears.  The melatonin was being used to hopefully help her feel better outside.. well, I don't think it does.  I DO think it helps for things like thunder, but, melatonin or no melatonin, we still cannot walk around the block.

The plan now is to wait another two to three weeks, for the final vestiges of summer to disappear, and re-evaluate her.  If there's no improvement in terms of walking in regular areas, we're going to have to explore other options.


Bijou August 21, 2009 at 10:08 PM  

Hi Marge,

Sorry to hear you are having a miserable summer. I hope the thunder boomers stay away so you can get out for a walk or to the agility trial. Maybe if you take along a furiend who is not afraid of these things you will gain confidence from them.

Mom should just relax and take it one day at a time. Baby steps forward and maybe a step or two back, til you learn there is nothing to fear.

Wags & wiggles,

Carolyn August 21, 2009 at 11:45 PM  

Hey Sam,

Sorry that it's been a "crap-tacular" summer. That's a bummer.

I know Cooper & Marge are different ages & have had different experiences, etc., but maybe some of our experiences will help a little? (i.e. the whole fearful dog thing).

When I started to take Cooper to trials (to hang out, of course) I told my agility friends what time I would be there, that way he could see people & dogs that he really liked (and I'm only talking about 2 or 3 people/dogs).

Initially, trials blew his mind but I also took super-duper high reward treats (a mix of steak, buffalo burger, hot dogs, chicken, and cheese). The trick, as you know, is to keep their focus on you and to keep it short and sweet.

I also took him during the more relaxed times of the trials. We stayed away from tunnelers & weavers sessions, when all the dogs get super hyped up and barked in their kennels with excitement. That might be something to think about....

But I would totally take her to the trial this weekend and use a lot of the "Control Unleashed" focus exercises. You might be surprised with how she does...(or not - lol!)

And, you know, if it doesn't go great, that's okay, too. Like I said, keep it short and sweet and at least she'll have the experience!

Ya gotta start somewhere!

I hope this helps and Good Luck!!!


Martha August 22, 2009 at 5:14 AM  

Sorry to hear about the nasty scary weather. We agree with the advice above - keep it short and sweet. We understand how you feel as she is coming along so well.
With Martha we limit her exposure to things but let her have short opportunities in the hope she will become more confidant.
Good luck
Martha & Bailey xxx

Dexter August 22, 2009 at 7:13 AM  

Oh Marge! I get so nervous on walkies that I don't even go anymore so I think you are very brave. It is easier, though, with a little dog like you to take risks in new situations.

Sometimes my brother gets that slinky look and it breaks momma's heart. I say wait until it cools off and don't push yourself too hard.


Sue August 22, 2009 at 1:11 PM  

I feel so bad for you. It's really hard to live with a phobic dog. I finally gave up and let Monty stay at home where he felt safe. We had to work on noises such as thunder and fireworks all his life, but we found compromises.

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