Its been an exhilarating past couple of days. Thane's door knock alert that ended 2011 on a high note was just the beginning of what he had in store.
The dream of a well rounded hearing dog was as of yet, still very much a dream rather than reality in my partnership with Thane. Though he did fairly well with in harness and public access type of alerts necessary for my safety, those in our home life were hit and miss at best.
That is until now
For the longest time I really wondered if Thane could ever achieve this training- if we would ever be a hearing dog team. The last couple days have proven to me that the stars are our limit (to use a cliche). Once I saw that Thane actually did make the connection to put each step in the chain of events for an alert together, I realized it was time for me to make the time to focus once more on training with Thane.
Right now I don't much care what the reason is for the change in our ability to pull this off- though just about everyone seems to concur that it has to do with Lyme receding. What has become important to me is that the hope I saw at the end of 2011, has become much more than that. It has become reality as we spend time working together on the doorbell alert.
As I returned to the training phase of the doorbell alert, it was pretty clear that the alert to a door knock on New Year's Eve was not just a coincidence. The first day back at the grind, Thane alerted perfectly 3 out of 5 times. The two times that were not perfect just needed some work on follow through. He seemed to have the concept when we were a good distance from each other, but when we were in close proximity the follow through was lacking. Despite that aspect, I truly felt this was an amazing start after all the struggles we encountered in the past just trying to put two parts of the chain together.
This was just to be the beginning of what was to come though. Today's practice has been amazing. Every single time I triggered the doorbell (with my backup training unit), Thane bounded to the door, back to me, and back to the door with me in tow. One time I stopped midway just to see what would happen. To my happy surprise, Thane bounded back to me with a follow-up alert and back to the door with me on his tail.
I'd be unrealistic if I were to say that this alert is trained solidly enough that he will be able to perform it with such perfection from here on out. That said, it does not squelch my enthusiasm over the joy that is bubbling within me. This is a huge accomplishment that at various times I actually wondered if it would ever ring true.
Over the past two years, Lyme stole a lot from our partnership that I had no idea the depths of. Now though, with Lyme receding and the fog lifted, I am getting the opportunity to experience the partnership (and training) that we were meant to have.