Rain can’t drive herself to Reactive Rover class. No matter what she tells us she’s capable of.
Our class is on a weeknight, about an hour or so after I’m typically done with work. The problem? I work about ten minutes away from Oregon Humane Society, but nearly ten miles from home. At minimum it would take me an hour to go home, get Rain, and get to Oregon Humane Society. That’s not factoring in the fact that the streets are frequently clogged during that time for the evening commute, further traffic backups happen regularly, plus the dogs are supposed to have had some exercise when they arrive for class. Accomplishing all that in an hour might work sometimes, but I couldn’t guarantee that it would work six weeks in a row.
That’s where my mom comes in. Before committing to this session of the six-week class, my mom and I figured out that she could shuttle Rain up to meet me at Oregon Humane Society. She leaves work a full hour before I do. I encouraged her to join us in class too, and she said maybe.
She has been in class every single time so far! And it turns out that having someone else in the room is a HUGE help.
The first week with the dogs, they have us this squeeze tube filled with “extra special stinky treat.” (It was pureed canned dog food.) When it was our turn to come out with the tube, I put the cap down on my chair and Rain went right for it instead of coming out with me. I picked it up and handed it to my mom. When the extra special stinky treat was making Rain go bonkers when we were supposed to be doing an exercise, I was able to quickly hand the tube to my mom and switch to using the food I had put in my pocket.
When Rain pooped in class her first week, I needed to clean it up. I had my mom hold Rain behind our shelter while I went to work for a few minutes.
Rain wants my attention during the whole class, especially because she knows I’ve got food. We sit behind the shelter and when she relaxes or doesn’t react when she hears other dogs bark, she gets some kibble. I feed her her dinner, one piece of kibble at a time, throughout the hour that we’re there.
During our last class, I was watching another one of the dogs out on the floor a little too long when I heard a medium-level ARF! It was Rain, trying to get my attention back on her to continue the kibble dispensing.
This means that I’m not able to maintain focus on the instructors. Who is? MOM! I can ask her questions if I miss something.
At the end of class, my mom can also take Rain outside while I pick up the toys I keep bringing, hoping Rain will occupy herself that way instead when she’s behind her shelter. (My hopes are fading on that front.)
Rain is the only dog in the class that has the luxury of having a team show up to support her in her education. I’d like to think that this guarantees that she will be a huge success!