Morning Revelations

Yesterday morning:
I woke up relatively early for a Monday (9am), considering I only have a lunch talk at 12:30. I took a step out of my bedroom door and was hit by a beam of blinding light. This reminded that I do indeed have a South-facing window: at the top of my stairs. Out of all of the windows in my apartment, this one would get the best direct light that would be best for my plants, but it had totally slipped my mind until then.  However, the sill of the window is quite high at 36 inches, and so my small bookshelf would not be tall enough to reach the sill (it is also too wide to fit in the small space at the top of the stairs).  So I thought maybe one of my large bookshelves would fit, with some modifications. Really the only modification needed is to take off the cardboard-like back of the shelves so both the back and front will be open. Still, the top of the stairs is not the most stable place, so I can only hope that it will work out.  Sometime later in the week I will set this up so that my newly sprouted herbs (hopefully) will have a place to grow and thrive!

This morning:
I had other sorts of revelations including new mile times and progress with Charley! With a reading group at 10am we got up at 7am to start off the day with a run. There is a ½ mile track near my apartment, and it has been a nice place with few distractions to get Charley trained to run next to me.  With his 5 pound pack on he does really well, except for when we pass other dogs. This is what we worked on today. The other couple of times we have run on the track there were no other dogs around, but today we encountered 3: a boxer, a little yappy thing, and a yellow lab.  We had done a mile when we encountered the boxer going the opposite direction on the track. I could tell Charley was getting in his ready to pounce mode, with his ears forward and just starting to strain a little forward on the leash. So the first thing I do is turn him another direction by taking a step in front of him and cutting him off, which forces him off the track towards the center of the field. He has to drop his concentration on the other dog for a moment, which allows me to take a little control and pull him in this other direction. This is how I broke him from freaking out at the squirrels all the time.  But unlike the squirrels, which tend to run and hide once I get him turned around, this other dog just keeps walking on the track, and Charley’s concentration is right back on him. Once he seems to be under enough control, I turn him again and we go back towards the track, but he is all too excited, and I have to drop down from our jog and make him sit down to calm him a bit.  This approach of running a different way was not working.

On the next loop around a yellow lab was out with its owner inside the field towards the inner part of the track. Charley and I run around getting within 10 feet of the lab, and Charley tries to pull towards it and starts to bark. I barely hold him back and half drag him along as I continue to keep at our run and just get passed the dog. On the outer side of the park a little yappy dog can’t stop barking it’s complaints at both Charley and the lab, but with Charley still fixed on the lab, he barely notices all the yapping.   We keep running. The next time around brings us again 10 feet from the lab, and this time, before we even get close I drop to a walk and tell Charley “Leave it!” whenever he seems to be too interested in the lab. This seems to work with Charley only pulling a little when we get closest to the other dog. I have been teaching him this command as mostly a way for him to not go after a treat or food on the coffee tables in the living room, but I think I was using it to get him to ignore the squirrels as well.  This did the trick. On the next loop we passed the lab again, and after dropping to a walk and telling him to “Leave it!”, we get passed him with not even a pull in that direction. Success! At least as far as dogs being around us. I think dogs going the direct opposite direction and getting closer than 10 feet still might be a bit too difficult for the excited Charley. But it is progress! I do want to point out that even though Charley sounds very ferocious and looks like he is about to attack the other dogs, he really is just excited to meet them. His barking is really  a way to release all the energy that consumes him when he gets excited to meet another dog, and it builds at his frustration of being held back. As he gets older and we continue to work on it more, I hope it will get better.

We then had completed over 2.5 miles and were ready to make the trip home to reach our 3 mile goal.  We reached mile 3 before we got back to the house, so our first 5K time was logged: 33min 13sec with an average mile of 10 min 41sec; an improvement over last time, even with Charley’s complications and calming walk-breaks!

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