Wednesday, March 21, 2012

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The Inspection

By Fred
While this week we on vacation in Sante Fe, walking around in sub-freezing temperatures and snow, Jam is having fun and relaxing with Stephanie. She sends us pictures, and we are reminded of how much we miss him and Willow, just after three days...

Jam has been improving steadily in all areas, in particular with his separation anxiety. We can now leave him alone without him making a fuss. Almost always. But he had a bad episode last week.

We've had some work around the house, and some inspectors were scheduled to come by on Thursday to give their blessing. I knew that I'd be outside with them for 10 or 15 minutes, so I put Jam in the crate with his peanut-butter infused Kong, something that has been working really well lately, but this time he would have none of it. Maybe Jam could sense my anxiety at the inspection. After all, we have this weird wire coming out of the fuse box--I could just imagine the inspectors making me re-wire the entire house. I get nervous about stuff like this.

Or maybe it was my body language. Maybe I was walking too fast, or maybe my voice had a scared-little-boy quiver to it. In any case, Jam knew something was not right, and he spit out the Kong and stared at me as I closed the crate door. Then, with incredibly bad timing, the door bell rang. Jam started doing his little dance. I walked away and said to him in a calm voice, "Be a good boy." He didn't cry, though, so I assumed he was OK.

About 10 minutes later, the inspection was over (we passed). I opened the kitchen door and there sat Jam waiting for me. In the next room I could see his crate, and the door was open and his precious yummy Kong was still there, untouched. Somehow he has learned how to open the door. Fortunately he can do it without hurting himself.

Coincidentally, Willow had a vet appointment later that afternoon. (She's fine.) Considering my options, I chose to take Jam along to see Dr. Woodman and discuss the crate episode. Dr. Woodman suggested that Jam must have picked up on my behavior and sensed that I was nervous. Looking back on it, I believe that's what happened.

Since Jam has been doing so well, since he has shown such improvement lately, and since he has been about 95% successful at staying in the crate, it is disappointing to have a setback and then to write about it (especially when the setback was my fault). But, as we've learned, the guide dog trainers need to know these details so they can be prepared to handle the dogs when they come in for training.

The process continues, and we continue to learn.

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