Friday, May 28, 2010

It's a rollercoaster ride.

Pet ownership, no matter what kind of pet or where they came from, is always going to have it's ups and downs. We are all individual creatures, with feelings and minds of our own. It's just life, how things happen.

Take for example the last week. Finn had a lovely breakthrough at our Pets On Wheels visit last Thursday. Finn had been willing to go, and enjoyed meeting people and getting petted, but he didn't understand why we were there, so was always a bit stressed and distracted. Last Thursday I had the day off, so we were able to go to the center and take our time.

I walked Finn a bit more before we went inside, and I concentrated on keeping him at heel and engaged. After the first 10 minutes, Finn relaxed, and started connecting with the people at the center. By connecting, I mean eye contact and attention. Before this, people would get a quick glance and maybe a lick, but that was it. This time he focused on their faces, and waited for them to talk to him and pet him. It's like the light went on in his head "Oh, I'm here to see people!"

I was really excited, because that is the purpose of Pets On Wheels, and other pet therapy programs. The people we serve NEED a connection. They need someone, person or animal, to look at them, and validate their existence. By interacting with the elderly, or challenged we let them know we acknowledge them, that they are important, and we care about their thoughts and feelings.

This was a big high! Finn left the center with tail high, happy and energized. He 'got it' finally. This has been a goal of mine, as a way we can both give back to our community. Plus Finn is such a sweet gentle dog, I have suspected he would be very good at this kind of therapy.

Fast forward to Sunday, and another goal I have. We went to Manassas for dog show, to work on our next Rally leg, and try our first Obedience class. We had not has as much time to practice as I would like, but I really only wanted to qualify, I wasn't looking for ribbons. Finn knew all the commands, and done them flawlessly. We had practiced with a friend as judge, and gone to a run through at a training center.

Sunday was warm and muggy, with lots of rain and puddles. We were up at 6, out the door before 7 and then a 2 hour drive to the show. We get to the show, set up, and frankly it was rather miserable. But Finn and I soldiered on, practicing, and waiting for our class. Finn got less and less enthused and more clingy, wanting to not leave my side. When our turn came for Rally, he basically shut down. The dog who got a 95 at the last rally, and complements from the judge on his sit and response, this time couldn't remember what 'sit' meant, or 'heel' or even to just follow me. I was mortified and embarrassed, and excused ourselves from the ring.

We did no better in obedience. Finn had mentally checked out. Whether from the heat, the long drive, the rain, or a combo of them all, he was not participating. I was bitterly disappointed (in no small amount because I gave up sleeping in and a whole day of my weekend to do this). So there was the low. But just like the high, Finn shared the low also. He didn't have fun that day either, and no one had even asked him if he WANTED to come to the show. So we both came home, wet, tired and grumpy.

But we came home together, and that is always a good ending to the day. As several people at the show said, no matter how you do, you get to go home with your best friend. What could be better than that? (It was a rough show for a lot of people)

I also have to remember that these are MY goals, and Finn has no clue what they are. It's my job in the partnership to help him understand what I want, and to make it rewarding for him to participate. I certainly failed in that part of it.

The next day Finn was wagging his tail, and bouncing after his ball, and delirious to see me after work. All forgiven and no grudges held. We should all be as generous of heart as our dogs are.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Score! Finally a dog toy Finn loves.

I have gone through many dog toys with Finn. He will play with them a bit, but mostly he enjoys shredding them. Balls he has good fun with, but they only keep his attention for a while.

He will not play with squeeky toys. At the first sound he drops them and walks away. The closest we have come to real enthusiasm are his two monkey toys, but still, he mostly wants to chew them, with occasional shaking and flinging.

I always try new toys though. At Petsmart yesterday, I found this ball:

When you bounce it, it flashes, and keeps flashing for a minute. I brought it home, showed it to Finn and tossed it. He was fascinated by the flashing, and played with the ball off and on all night, eventually even taking it to bed with him.

Today, he played with the ball most of the evening, adding growling and barking to the game. The ball has weathered the playing well, just minor scoring.

Maybe it's a sight hound thing, but I'm just delighted he found something he loves to play with.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Frederick Celtic Festival

Today we went to the Frederick Celtic Festival with the PVIWC. Despite the winds we all had a great time. Best kept local secret, Scottish Highland Creamery ice cream. Yummmmmmm!!!

Van and his car full of hounds.

Yes, that is Bob under there.

Finn takes in the festival.

Lily does some face washing.

Finn and Bill.

Finn is a popular stop,

and he got to kiss quite a few lovely ladies!

Highland cattle! This is a yearling bull.

Jodie wrangles puppies, and looks smashing doing it!

Bill, Finn and I with some dancers.

Jodie and Corky.

Jodie, Bob, Kelly, and various legs and eyes.

Finn and this young lad spent some time communing in the shade at the end of a long, fun-filled day.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

May Day!

Happy May Day!

Finn and his buddy Zack

Blurry video of Finn playing 'Fetch' (Wolfhound version)

Augie and Pogo.

Pogo enjoys Finn's 'award toy' from the Rally. Finn doesn't like toys that squeak.

It's a good day!

(Thank you to Jan, Dawn, Pogo and Teddy for hosting the play date and conversation!)