Saturday, September 27, 2008

Details, details, and fitness

So far we're doing pretty well with:
Go through doors
Go around obstacles
Adjust pace - up to trot for me that's a run
Find home (defined as her home for now)
Find mailbox
Over left
Over right

But, within all of these commands there are the details. Like when I click she over rotates around me. That was ok in the beginning but now we need to refine this so that she stays in position. So, that's one detail that we will add in now. Even though she will over-rotate, she still recognizes forward as where I am pointed. So, when I give her the forward she adjusts to find forward based on the flow of my hand and my heading.

Over left is really solid. That's defined as a move to the left while heading straight. Left and right are defined as 90 degree turns moving or from a stop. Since she is over-rotating she doesn't quite get the turns. She is a real trooper at crossing the street dead straight.

And, she has targeting mailboxes dead on. We can find a mailbox, go forward from there and find the next one.

Targeting with the feet is on the agenda now. Targeting with her feet will help her point out terrain changes and curbs. This will be a new concept for Cali.

Her pull is really steady and she is more than willing to pick up the pace. We'll keep at this average pace until we meet with Mona to determine her walking speed. By then, we'll be able to adjust up or down. "Easy" is her cue to slow down. "Easy" goes along with a little pressure on her halter when she gets too exuberant. She loves knowing what to do.

While she can jump in and out of side door of the trailer, she struggles with climbing into the car. That's because she has to pull herself up. Most cars will not have enough room for her to simply jump. It will have to be more controlled. So, we'll go back to climbing the steep ramp as a conditioner.

Along with training Cali, it will be necessary to teach Mona how to handle her. That's because Mona has never had an animal guide. To that end, I gave Cali to my husband today. I instructed him to close his eyes. I gave Cali the "forward" command and off they went. Cali dead on straight. Dave, well..... He'll be a good subject to teach. Cali was a little confused and looked back for me and tried once or twice to find me. That's OK, she'll get it. A click and treat for her. Good girl. That was a good test. She knew what to do but the feel in the harness was different. She will have to learn to generalize and make good choices on what to do even when things aren't completely clear.

Our bus arrived thanks to my friend. It has an elevator for wheelchair access and a reasonable set of steps. I think Cali can climb them. We'll see. We got as far as standing on the ramp facing onto the bus. I could raise the ramp a few inches off the ground. It was the end of the day. So, I decided that was enough for now.

I am so proud of Cali in the relieving department. She has not once offered to "go" while working. Even when we've worked for 3 hours or so.

And, Mona had better not plan on being late for work or she will get a tongue lashing from Cali. Yesterday we were a little late getting started. Just like an alarm clock, Cali started to whinny exactly when we usually work. Very cute and smart.

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