Thursday, August 8, 2013

10 Months, 3 Weeks: Training - Days 150 - 154

I have a neurological disability that waxes and wanes and some days I wake feeling like someone has set every nerve in my body on fire.  I can have good mobility days were my balance isn't that bad and my foot movement is okay and I can have bad mobility days that make me look like the hunched hag shuffling along the streets in old movies.  Monday arrived with a bad mobility day, which kindly included a low energy day.  I was barely able to manage feeding and caring for the dogs and providing simple guidance without setting every nerve on fire.  I worked a bit of Zen and Target with Jack and included Emma in a refresher on her Target behaviors also.  She was spot on, not only remembering how to do a solid target on my hand, but closing cabinet doors and touching post it notes on the walls.

I then moved to a bit of Retrieve work with Emma, presenting a plastic egg to see if she would try to take it in her mouth.  I had no plan for her to pick it up, and was watching her body language to see if moving to oddly shaped objects would throw her off her rapid progress.  She was willing to try to take the egg in her mouth, but after one or two times of doing so shrunk into herself a bit.  I decided to play a bit with her instead and make things fun again.

On Tuesday I had no choice but to do laundry, even though I was worse than Monday.  The week before I simply didn't have a lot of energy, but knew a flare was coming.  I had rested as much as possible in hopes to keep it minor, but by Tuesday I couldn't even stand my arms resting on anything because it sent bone deep aches through my elbows or felt like I was rubbing my skin off.  My legs were burning as were my feet and anytime I stood it felt like I was tearing the skin and muscle off of the bone.  I was exhausted from the pain and nearly in tears.  I have nothing I can take to lighten the load when this happens and must endure the agony as best I can without becoming a sobbing mess.

I did no training with the dogs on Tuesday, but I did encourage Emma to try picking up clothes that fell from my hands when I was working with Max to retrieve my laundry.  Emma decided instead the bra that had fallen was a mat and laid on it.  I laughed at her and had Max retrieve my fallen clothes.

On Wednesday I could at least walk again and be outside without feeling like I was roasting.  I let the dogs play mostly, but worked with Emma on holding and handing me the pen when I moved my hand a short distance from her.  She did a great job with it and only got a little shy about the whole game.

When Ronda came to pick up Jack that night I had Emma take and then carry the pen to Ronda.  She would call Emma to her (Ronda was about 3 feet away) and Emma would wend and weave through the dogs and give her the pen.  Ronda would hand it back to her and I'd call her and she'd return to me.  She was having so much fun getting praised for giving us the pen she didn't realize she was training.

I was amazed and pleased with how well she carried the pen from point A to point B.  She kept a soft mouth on it, didn't drop it and held it until we clearly told her to give it to us.  What an amazing hold Emma has when she's carrying objects.

Today was the first day I felt human and had any form of energy in almost two weeks.  I spent a large part of the day catching up on paperwork and return phone calls, but wanted to address Emma's Retrieve one final time before Friday.  This weekend is a Con weekend (SpoCon is a science fiction convention I attend and will take Emma too early in the day for her public access outing) and I wanted today to be mostly relaxed and restful for the upcoming stress I will be placing her under when we go to pick up my badge.

The video attached is what happened when Emma had most of the week to think over what we've been working on.  Amazing progress!  Emma is now automatically picking up and handing me the pen!

What a wonderful breakthrough for Emma!

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