Yes it is late to be posting. However it was a busy day… I’d said I was going to post about Maisie today, and so I will. But first…
Today we had helpers. For many months (or longer) I have known that we were going to need helpers at some point. Not with physical care, but with keeping things up. Pete needs to keep his antennas up in the trees, but he can’t do that. Same with swinging a weed whacker (he fractured his left bicep, so has very little strength in that arm anymore) or collecting future firewood out of the woods or any number of other tasks. I need help with housework things, given my issues with reaching, bending, stretching, twisting, lifting, raising my arms, walking, and standing for more than a couple of minutes. (We’re a mess, aren’t we???)
I already told you the beginning of the story last week; since that time we have interviewed (read: spent time with) “Edna” and “Jerry” and learned of their particular experiences and talents. We shouldn’t have been surprised when they aligned perfectly with our needs. God doesn’t halfway meet needs; He PERFECTLY meets needs! Today was their first day with us; Jerry used his experience – and expertise I might add! – as a tree climber to get Pete’s ham radio antenna higher up than it’s ever been, deftly trimming away any branches that would interfere with signals. He filled in a low spot in the yard that made mowing difficult and rough on the mower – I don’t need a level to tell me that it’s darned near perfect! He and Pete have many plans for future jobs, all of which “Jerry” is not only willing but also very able to manage with his experience!
“Edna”…well what can I say? I believe housework is an art. You can tell the difference as soon as you go into a house whether someone who knows what they’re doing lives there or not. And now my house looks like that. For a very long time, other than on the very occasional “good day,” I would see something that needed to be done and could manage that one thing. But I don’t see the whole picture. Or something. Hard to describe. Anyway, she dusted and vacuumed and scrubbed and polished, and she also cleaned up our area under the awning where we like to sit, so now instead of sharing space with stuff that’s just stuck under there to keep it out of the rain, or because there’s no place else to put it, or whatever…we have our chairs and a table, a couple of little decor items, and a freshly swept and raked “floor”. It is open and tidy and a very pleasant place to be, for the first time since we moved here! Something I’ve wanted to do for so long! And it is amazing now, when I am on the davenport, to be able see the wildlife in all of their color and splendor, crisp and clear, through shiny windows. And the screens…the screens! I don’t even see the screens when I look out through them anymore! You will surely notice a BIG difference in the photos I shoot from indoors :).
Someone told me recently that they’ve been searching for help for a very long time, without success. That may be the difference, though I can’t say for sure…this wasn’t OUR search. (Fine example of the phrase “give it to God” in action!)
OK, topic #2: Training Maisie
I’ve talked about her training before, so I won’t rehash all that. But this is new. I’d taught her things to do here at home that I needed. I didn’t anticipate that I would want or need her help elsewhere, as I don’t go out alone; I’m always with Pete, or sometimes Casey or Gwen, but not alone. So I didn’t anticipate the need. As a result, she has no manners out in public. She thinks every other dog she sees wants to play, and every person is in her vicinity just so they can pet her. She is so distracted, with her attention on absolutely everything else, that she doesn’t hear me, or pay attention to anything I say. At home she walks quietly beside me outside, will “look at me” or “leave it” when distracted, and does what she’s asked to do.
Lately I have had times when Pete and I were out that I could have used Maisie’s help. I can envision a future where I will want her with me. So we have started working on things HERE (she isn’t ready to go into public yet, not by a long shot!). Even though this is fairly recent, I am seeing results. When our helpers came today they were meeting her for the first time and I instructed them not to look at her, talk to her, or acknowledge her. I put her into a sit-stay, which she kept wanting to break. I had to get insistent with her and, since she wasn’t getting anything from them, she finally complied. And got thoroughly praised! Eventually, after a couple of hours probably, when she started ignoring “Edna”, I told her she could pet her. And it worked! Maisie was great, listening to me and everything :). That is a huge deal!
We had a couple of things delivered via FedEx today as well. Maisie goes nuts – both dogs do – when delivery trucks are here. (Yes, our fault, we’ve never told them that’s not acceptable.) But, once her initial few barks were out of the way she settled right down, sat/stayed, during the remainder of the unloading process – WHAT??? That’s not MY dog. I have to say, “Edna” helped with that, offering the suggestion that, in addition to the known commands I gave her, tell her that I was “taking over” (not the exact words, which I don’t recall) – basically “thanks, I’ll handle it from here.” BOOM! Maisie settled down immediately.
As I’ve also mentioned (maybe in one of my daily updates?), she’s learned to watch-but-not-chase our wildlife recently also – not to react as she always had – through gentle training. She was laying outside next to me a few days ago when a chipmunk ran past her, about 4 feet away. She picked up her head, startled, but otherwise didn’t react. Instead, she responded by watching until it was out of sight, then laying her head back down. This from a dog that always tried to follow them right up the tree!
Will Maisie ever be able to perform her duties as flawlessly as she does at home, out in public or around other people? I don’t know. But these events and her responses are making me hopeful!
Thanks for reading :).