C arrived back in Valencia last Monday night. It was a long 3 weeks while he was back in the US, but we knew that this was part of the deal when we decided to move to Valencia. It was also an opportunity for C to bring back some of my cooler weather clothes, Hunter rain boots, and most importantly our 4-legged family members. You may remember from my December post about Maizey & Blue that we had some concerns about how they would do as city dogs. There are significant differences in suburban single-family home living and city, apartment life. Given that dogs' senses are so much more sensitive than ours, we didn't know how the sights, sounds, smells, and lack of grass were going to be tolerated by the pups. We also knew that Maizey, who was affectionately dubbed "Crazy Maizey", is an alpha dog and doesn't love having other people or dogs in her space. Things got particularly worrisome after we moved in with my folks. Mom and Dad were gracious enough to let all 5 of us plus the 2 dogs move into their home in the midst of preparing their house for sale. We knew that Maizey is not inherently an aggressive, mean dog, but she likes predictability and order and can be a grumpy bitch when her boat gets rocked (like me, quite frankly). Well, with the contractors in and out of the house and loads of construction noises, Maizey reacted by being--um--assertive with several of the workmen and neighbors' dogs. So, we did what any responsible pet owner would do, we called in our friend Evan with Full Contact K9 for a consult. Evan did a short assessment and agreed that this was manageable with some intensive behavior modification.
Given that we had weeks to get Maizey sorted out, Evan suggested that we use a disruptive training method and three-times a week sessions. I also worked with Maizey for about 30 minutes each day on her off-training days. At home, I rebranded Maizey as "Dainty Maizey" so that we could all subconsciously condition ourselves to interact with her differently.
I cannot begin to tell you what a difference working with Evan made almost immediately. Once Maizey learned her place in my pack, she was a different dog. She could feel safe and relax a little bit, knowing that I would handle the things that life was throwing at us. Quite frankly a few weeks into the training, it was me (and still is), that was most anxious about her behavior on our walks. City life is definitely different than suburban life. Just last week we walked to the Asian supermarket and passed a sea of tourists, locals, toddlers, strollers, dogs (on and off leash), buskers, and wheelchairs--the pups were amazing! There was not a misplaced grumble or a thought of a gnarl.
We are around other people constantly and the ambient noise is non-stop. In the mornings we get short horn bursts from cars leaving the parking deck below our building, which usually results in a raucous 5-second bark-fest each time it happens. We wait patiently in the lobby, dogs in a sit, to make sure that the elevator is cleared before we get on for our rides. The walk to the park for the pups' morning potty break happens just as cafe employees are dragging tables to the street for morning desayuno service; after their walk, we stop and get our cafe con soja and pan con tomate. Dainty Maizey has even taken to lying down and enjoying the morning with us.
Thank you Evan and Full Contact K9 for letting my family enjoy our new city...it is a valiant victory for all of us.