That means only seventeen days left until our big adventure hiking in the BWCA. Luckily, the girls and I are about as prepared as possible. I still have a few bits of gear to pick up including a sleeping pad for myself, a stuff sack for the girls' sleeping bag, and some odds'n'ends for the first aide kit, but everything else seems to be falling in to place. Rubi and Piper got the all-clear from the vet - with the addition of some happy pain pills for the girl with the bionic knees (that's Piper, btw) and an herbal bug repellent for them both. Both girls are able to carrying their fully weighted packs for at least five miles, which is the minimum distance we're planning for each day. I'll keep a journal while I'm up there, and I'll update the blog one day at a time when I get back.
In other news, I am surrendering to the idea that Jai is reactive. As his confidence grows, so grows his determination - and that goes hand-in-hand with his level of frustration when he doesn't get what he wants. I think I spend so long in denial partially because Rubi and Maus's reactivity is so severe. Jai isn't anywhere in the same category as them, but he definitely gets over-stimulated, over-aroused, and can throw a tantrum with the best of them.
Since coming to this conclusion, I haven't really changed my training plan, though. Jai is still the same dog whether I label him as "reactive" or not. Our relationship building has been paying off, and Jai's enthusiasm for training is growing up right along with his confidence. We're still hacking away at the relaxation protocol, and I decided to take our hard work for a test drive on Tuesday. Jai and I and our friend the Thundershirt went out for coffee at the Caribou near our house. It went beautifully. We hung out on the patio and Jai watched the world go by just like a real dog! He had maybe one or two brief episodes of zombie-watching level paranoia, but otherwise seemed to enjoy the outing.
In spite of our challenges, I'm having a lot of fun working with Jai. He wants very much to be a happy, worry-free dog, and piece by piece, we're getting there. I think there must be something wrong with my brain that I love working with the special needs dogs so much more than the "normal" dogs. But then, taking a shy, uncertain soul and helping him realize that he doesn't have to live in the past - he can be free of his demons, too - who wouldn't love to do that?