Today we were very busy! First we had out on the town class in Freedom Park in Charlotte. We met in the parking lot and spent a lot of time there doing some really interesting dog training– basically training our dogs to sit automatically when someone comes up to pet them, and then rewarding by letting our dogs visit. Rewarding with a behavior the dog wants to do is called Premack.
We started out with some silicone cupcake cups on the ground. We stood back from the cup, and asked our dogs for a sit. They had to stay sitting while the person approached the cup, then we would click and release them and (for me at least) cue the visit. Other people just released their dogs. We started out far away from the cup and gradually moved closer to increase the difficulty.
When all the pups were doing that well, we moved it up to make it a little harder. This time, we waited until our dog noticed the person walking up to the cup, then cued the sit, have the person approach, click and reward with a visit. We slowly decreased the distance to up the difficulty.
Our final step was having the trainers approach and waiting for the dog to do something not directed at the trainers, but directed at us. This could be a sit, a look, a down, basically any shifting of focus back to the handler. Then click, release, and cue visit.
We did some other things during class, too, but this was the main new stuff we learned. I really like it because we talked about how the cue for the sit is the person approaching. So this kind of cuts off any contact until the dog has chosen to sit or look or whatever we want the dog to do.
At the end of class the trainers took turns holding dogs while the participants went around and greeted others’ dogs in this manner. It was really helpful to see the command and action from the other side of the leash. It was a really great class!
After class we headed over to the doctor’s office. We were meeting with Brad’s GP to ask her if she would treat his Chronic Fatigue Syndrome / Myalgic Encephelomyelitis. We arrived about half an hour early, so had a long wait in the waiting room. There were kids everywhere!
We tried sitting in an out of the way place where the kids couldn’t easily approach. But one little girl couldn’t stop walking over and jumping around in front of Hestia. I tried to ignore her, but then she started climbing on the seat next to me where I had placed the Unrest movie and CFS/ME articles for the doctor. I was worried she would wrinkle them, so I picked them up. Then she thought it was OK to get even closer, and she stood up in the chair next to us moving her body sporadically.
So I moved over to another set of chairs where she couldn’t get next to me. But then she got in the chair in front and started hanging over the back of the chair making quick kid motions. Hestia was starting to get worried about all this, so I told the little girl not to bother Hestia as she was a working dog. That didn’t phase the girl at all, and she made even more noise and quick movements.
So I moved back several rows to the middle of the room. In the back of the room there was a little kid barking nonstop at us. So we thought middle would be safe. Then someone with a kid came and sat down right next to us. Or at least right next to the chair that I had placed the papers and movie on. Next thing I know, the little kid is throwing his (luckily still in wrapper) lollipop at us. The kid couldn’t throw well, so it just ended up on my papers. So I told the kid these were important papers for the doctor, and the mom of this kid told the kid to behave. I was grateful that at least one of the parents in the room were being responsible about their kids. The barking went on the whole time we were in the waiting room.
Anyway, we finally got in to see the doctor. We really like our GP. She is helpful, honest, and has supported us in our quest to see doctors at Duke etc. She said she has never treated someone with CFS/ME before, but that she would do some research and let us know in a month if she felt she could treat him.
I offered her the papers I had printed, but she said she preferred doing her own research. I also offered to lend her the Unrest DVD since she didn’t have Netflix. She refused that at first, too, until Brad told her that I had bought an extra copy of the DVD specifically for the purpose of lending out to doctors.
She was honest with us and told us she didn’t know much about CFS/ME, and she wasn’t sure if she would be comfortable treating Brad for it. But then she said that if she didn’t feel comfortable treating it that she would help us find a doctor that could.
So all in all a very productive day! Good learning at class, and a doctor who takes our insurance who was willing to listen and learn. Brad got lots of pictures at dog training class, and I got one of Brad resting in the doctor’s office while waiting for the doctor to come in. Here is the link to all the pictures: