That’ll do, pig. Positive Training Saves Monte’s Life – Take 2

I am exhausted.  After not sleeping well last night, I had to get up early today to be at the classroom for what was a wonderful day at a workshop for the current KPA students.  Sometime in the middle of that day I attended a “dog event” with Mokie (see previous blog entry).

Despite my exhaustion, I am totally wired.  Jittery, my heart racing.  I’m tense.  I feel like a drank about twelve pots of coffee.  My neck is all crampy, my body feels tremble-y (my blog.  I can make up words whenever I want).

Why do I feel this way, despite the fact that I should be sleeping?

I was really excited to get home today.  I always enjoy KPA but come home so mentally exhausted I’m virtually worthless for conversation, responding to emails, or doing anything but a)  curling up with a good book or b) losing myself in Harry Potter movies until bedtime.

Jim had been doing some yard work (bless him). We just got a new electric lawn mower and the extension cord had been run out the front door.  In my excitement to be home and see my family, I failed to notice the front door did not latch shut.

I visited with the dogs and hubby for a bit.  Some clicks and treats for my dogs, who I miss when I’m away from them.  I grabbed a class of Cabernet and returned a phone call, glad to relax while returning a phone call.

I sat on the couch, comfy, Cabernet, content, calendar, conversing with client.

Mokie started whining.  What gives?

I got up to see what was wrong, and saw her standing at the front door – which was wide open.

My heart dropped.  Where was Monte?

I went out onto the front porch and looked around.  I saw Monte down the street, heading towards the park that was full of basketball players, dog walkers, kids running around, playing, etc.  He had crossed Robinson Street, one of Binghamton’s busiest streets.

I said his name.  “Monte!”  He whipped his head around to look at me, all smiles. 

A car was coming quickly up the street.  I was never so thankful that I had not taught Monte to recall to his name, that it just meant “look at mom.”  Had I trained his name as a recall cue, he would have been hit by the car.  I put my hand forward and shouted, “wait!”

He stood there, waiting.  The car passed, the road was clear.  “Come on, piggy!” I hollered, turning my body away slightly and getting all wiggly.

He took off like a shot.  I’ve rarely seen him run so fast.  It’s a happy sight to watch him run – jowls, ears, flapping, tail wagging mightily. He ran as fast as he could, right up to the house.

I immediately ran into the kitchen and grabbed one of the many treat bags that have permanent residence status in my fridge.  I’d had “really good stuff” with me at the community event earlier, so my treat bag was filled with popcorn chicken, bits of pepperoni, some Red Barn food roll, and hot dogs.

I dumped the whole thing out on the kitchen floor.  It was a jackpot that would leave nearly any dog quivering with delicious joy.  He had earned it.

This happened a couple hours ago.  I’m still all jittery.  But more than that, I’m thankful.

I feel like an idiot for leaving the door open, don’t get me wrong.  This situation could have been avoided had the door been latched shut.  However, people make mistakes.  Stuff happens, and someday your dog may be away from you off-leash, perhaps he slipped his collar.  Positive training is every dog owner’s disaster-prevention kit when and if these situations arise.

Also, in the interest of giving credit where it is due, I must give kudos to my favorite cub, Mokie.  Mokie is very independent and sometimes impulsive when it comes to exploring.  Despite that, with the door wide open, she stayed at the front door, standing, waiting.  I know she would have liked nothing more than to run through Binghamton’s east side with her brother, looking for adventure and trouble.  Yet she didn’t.  She just stayed there.  Because she’s a superstar!  What a good girl!

People say that cats have nine lives.  Monte has had at least three life-saving experiences – coming to the rescue/home with me, counter-conditioning and desensitization for reactivity through Clicking with Canines and Steve’s tutelage, and now, a name response, “wait” at a distance with distractions, and recall from a distance with distractions brought Monte home safely, through traffic, and to the leather loveseat on which he currently rests peacefully.

Clicker training has saved Monte’s life.  I am in awe of how wonderful he is. And to think, I used to be terrified of him!

That’ll do, pig.

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