Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Rainbows, Butterflies, and Unicorns

Although yesterday started off fine, with a long walk during which My Good Dog was mostly perfectly behaved (except when she wasn't), she went on to have a bit of a rough day. Mondays, you know: trash day. All day long, we hear the slow rumbling of  garbage trucks. Then the yard waste trucks make their rounds. By the time the mail carrier arrives in the late afternoon, Sophie's limited store of patience has been exhausted. Still, I see progress. Even though she launched a full offensive at the mail carrier's approach, I intervened swiftly and she recovered her equanimity quickly.

This morning, we left for our walk a bit later than usual. A mail carrier truck was parked to the left of us as we neared the trailer park on Telegraph. I made sure I was breathing and walking normally. Sometimes I catch myself tightening up when I see a mail truck, or a FedEx or UPS truck: my shoulders tighten and rise, my breathing gets faster, my heart beat becomes noticeable. I react this way even if I'm out driving by myself.

So I've been learning to pay attention to that and correct my posture. This morning, I held the leash loosely in my left hand, which is in itself progress; I used to begin our walks by wrapping the end of the leash around my hand several times.

We kept walking, with Sophie trotting at a sedate heel. Then she glanced at the mail truck briefly, returned her gaze forward, and kept walking as if she had never once in her life ever even growled at a mail carrier, as if she bore no grudge against mail carriers in general, as if she'd never been the spectacle of 70 pounds of barking, whirling, ferociously lunging fury that interrupted a middle school P.E. class because all the students and the teacher ran to the chain-link fence to stare at her while she let a mail carrier know what was up.

Several blocks later, we'd turned down Ashwood toward the park, and Sophie caught sight of a large, long-haired cat of the striped variety. The cat looked at Sophie calmly, and then approached--not as a Halloween cat would do, but as if she thought she'd like to say hello. Sophie and the cat touched noses and sniffed each other thoroughly. The cat didn't run, Sophie didn't pounce at her, they just looked at each other for a moment, and then Sophie and I went on our way.

This is how it would be in my dream world every day.

Today's Report Card
# of mail trucks sighted (parked): 1
reactivity: 0

# of cats sighted (in motion): 2
reactivity: -5, 0

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