Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Cali Day 2

Wow is all I can say. I told Becky that Cali wanted to be a guide. And, she sure proved it today.

Yesterday I said that forward would be our theme for a time. When I went our with halter and harness Cali immediately lined up on my left side for her harness after I put on her halter. Very cool. Forward with a tug was no problem.But, we circled a bit in the driveway because she was not sure where to go.

Once she thought she'd take me over to the grass. But, my lead was as if I held a rein on my riding horses. So, as she started to put her head down she encountered the lead and her head popped right up.I took the lead and sort of headed her down the driveway.

We have a 1/4 mile long dirt driveway with grass on both sides. Every time I picked up the harness Cali had no trouble putting a little tug on it and taking us forward. Every few steps I'd click and she would get her treat.

Pretty soon though she had the idea that the word "forward" meant to put a little tug on the harness and head on down the road. So, when I clicked she didn't stop.What I figured out was that she understood the word forward meant head on down the driveway with a tug on the harness. So, in order to get her to stop for her treat I had to let go of the harness. She happily stopped for her treat.

Her understanding of "forward" would become more apparent later.We went all the way down the driveway and for a good part I was able to close my eyes. Boy do you loose all sense of where you are going with your eyes closed. At times I was certain that we had drifted from the side of the road. But, when I opened my eyes to check there we were right beside the grass. How humbling.

Trust her I told my self.We got to the end of the road. Ann told me that on a road without a sidewalk one walks against the traffic. There was no traffic when we got to the road. So, we turned left. Cali decided that the shoreline would be the white line which put me in the traffic lane. It was a valid choice based on the way we'd come down the driveway.I helped her over to the other side of the white line and discovered that Cali has a wide idea of obstacles. So, her idea in going around the mail box was to take us very wide. We'll refine that later.

Then, the coming home from work traffic seemed to appear from nowhere. Motorcycles, trucks, cars all speeding in both directions. Cali was unperturbed but I was scared to death. If I'd been riding, I'd have headed inland off the road.Since that was more traffic than I wanted to deal with, I decided to cross the street and go back towards home.

An interesting puzzle. Do you cross the street where there is no walk-way? Mona what does your mobility coach say about that.Well, we crossed anyway. She happily took us up the other side. Interesting that going back seemed to her to be a different skill. So, she kept hesitating. I decided to lead her back to my driveway.

Now all of a sudden the traffic picked up even more. Cali was unsure where the traffic was and stopped and stayed stopped when she heard traffic of any kind. Good choice. That will have to be refined later too.Once the traffic calmed down I told her forward and she happily took us back across my driveway and headed down the driveway. So interesting that she had decided that forward meant going down the driveway away from home.

Since Mona will want to take walks in the park and then let Cali help her find the way home, I decided that I could start that process by giving her a cue "Find home".She'd been heavily reinforced for going down the driveway and we were a little stuck in going up the driveway. So, I dropped the harness and decided to show her going up the driveway each time I adjusted her and said "find home".C/T when she continued on her way. A few times she started to cross over to the "down" side of the driveway. I just said, "Find home" and corrected our direction. She got it. And, pretty soon I had my eyes shut again as we traveled"finding home".

At one point our path comes to our Trailer garage and the beginning of a stone wall. True to form Cali decided these things needed a wide path. I wanted to see what she'd do. Sure enough once we passed the building she was back to the shoreline.Now yesterday, we'd gone to the arena. So, what does find home mean. A good question. Mona's home will be much more distinct than what we have so far. And, later when Cali is living in the house, find home will become more meaningful. So, she wasn't wrong to head for the arena.

At the entrance to the arena, I decided to test what Cali thought "forward" meant. So, I gave the cue "forward".Cali happily turned us around and headed back down the driveway. Smart girl.We turned back around and started home again. At the end of the driveway where all our out buildings, my dog, my stallion and the trailer and car were I decided we were done. I dropped the harness and Cali moved fluidly into leading mode. I think this is a nice skill to keep in place for when Mona is wanting to follow friends and wants Cali to just come along.

On the housebreaking front, Cali has been at pasture. It's only been one day where her food is given at controlled times. Like a puppy, I think to house break it is critical to control feeding times. It might be more normal for a horse to graze all the time. But, in winter, our horses are fed at certain times and don't have food all day. If they did our horses would be blimps. Panda gets fed 4 times a day. So, it seemed like this would be a good plan for Cali too.She's getting hay stretcher pellets for training so it's not like she will be hungry.

Tomorrow will be two days on the controlled feeding and I'll start to document more exactly when she goes. At this time she is poo'ing within about every 2 hours. I'm certain that she could hold it. But, before I ask her to do that I want to know what's normal for her. She pee's about 3 maybe 4 times a day so far. I have a plan in place to put the potty'ing on cue. But, we'll hold off on that for now.

She does not go while working. So, we have time.

Cali has a ball. She plays with it by pushing it around with her nose. I see it move throughout the day. I saw her play with it when she was finished working. But, mostly if I show up she's right there ready to go to work.

Like an endurance horse or a sled dog, we want to build up her ability to work just as you would build up your own body with exercise. You don't start running by going out and running a marathon. We call that Long Slow Distance or LSD for short. Cali will need to work up to working all day with breaks. That will take a little time. I'm comfortable with the time frame we set for our first shadowing session with Mona. By then, I think Cali will be in shape mentally and physically for the work.

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