Happy Ruby Tuesday! I'm delighted that we have sprung forward into longer days and lighter evenings - Ruby and I are already taking advantage of more walking time and sunshine. I've been taking her tug outside with us on some of my lunch breaks and playing with her on the clubhouse balcony where she can drag her leash and play some fetch. I also got her a Nerf ball that we kick around on the common lawn. It's encouraging that she can focus on play in the great outdoors, and I'm hoping we can use the tug especially as a training tool.
Last Friday Ruby had a playdate at the baseball field with her Chug chum, Cosmo. We are so lucky to have this just a short drive away, as it allows the dogs a safe place to run and play. There was one other dog there this time, another Jack Russell mix! She and Ruby had a rather stiff, hackle-y greeting but their tails were soon wagging and they mostly ignored one another. Ruby concentrated on playing chase with Cosmo and fetching her flying disc. The weather was just starting to change, and the damp field resulted in muddy white stockings for Ruby. They ran around for about thirty minutes before the rain got heavier, and we left just as it really started to come down, later turning to snow. Ruby had a bath back home - like most dogs, she doesn't love it but is fairly cooperative. She does seem to enjoy the drying-off part, rolling around in the towel and acting silly, followed by a crazed case of the zoomies.
On Sunday I needed to take some feed down to my horses and decided to let Ruby ride along. I forgot to put her Thundershirt on but she did fairly well on the trip, especially considering it was an unseasonably warm day and there were many motorcycles and cyclists out. When we see one of her triggers I say "peanut butter!" and offer her Treat Toob. She settled down once on the freeway and also did not get car-sick - hooray! Ruby has only met my horses on one previous occasion, before I moved them last fall. I walked her out to their pasture on her leash, and when they approached us, she panicked, barked madly at them and tried to escape, poor girl. It wasn't what I was expecting - in fact I had named her after a fearless, salty horse-wrangler - but given her anxiousness and reactivity I shouldn't have been surprised.
It was so beautiful out on Sunday, and I wanted to spend some time brushing my shedding horses, so I decided to take Ruby over to their pen to see how she would do. She was cautiously curious, retreating if they made sudden movements but also wanting to sniff them, and she didn't bark at all! After initial introductions, I was able to loop her leash around the fence and ask her to stay on one side while I groomed flurries of black and white hair out of Coro and Notchee. She eventually laid down to bask in the sun. I was so impressed! I think the true turning point was Ruby's first taste of horse manure - a canine delicacy, and one that convinced her that horses are not so bad after all. There are also chickens, ducks, goats and barn cats where the horses live, so it was a really exciting day for Ruby. She curled up in the back seat for most of the ride home and was sleepy and snuggly the rest of the day. I considered our afternoon with the horses a wild success!
We've progressed to Day 5 of the Relaxation Protocol, and with only one bobble on the first time through yesterday I think it will be an easier one. Because of the layout of my house, I don't have a lot of options where I can do all of the various tasks, so I have to get creative with some of the numbers of steps. During one of the tasks Ruby flopped down dramatically into her "relax" position - laying flat on her side - as if to say "All right, already, I'm relaxed!" It was so funny. I like to reward her after the RP sessions with something more active and fun, so last night I turned two of my kitchen chairs over on their sides to make a little jump course for her. I am also working on leg weaves, and getting her into position on my right side in a sit (the cue we use for this is "get set.")
I hope spring brings crocuses, mud-puddles and birdsong to your neck of the woods, and mine!