My week as a paraplegic

So that’s a very tongue in cheek not meant to insult anyone title. But that’s what this week has felt like.

Last Sunday was my second day as a dog trainer. I got to work with sweet puppies and reserved older dogs. The old ones are always my favorite and earning trust is one of the best things about training to me.

I am usually not reserved around any dog at all. My husband and I joke that my death will because I ran to hug a rottweiler . Mieke is too forceful with her love – She gets it from me. There is one type of dog I’m reserved about. Protection dogs. The exception to this is Hunter, the trainer’s personal dog, who is very well trained. A protection dog is highly trained and will stop on a dime. The dog loves and respects their owner and will do anything for them. Great! I’m going to let your dog do the first move for initiating friendship cause I’m not an idiot.

However, My trainer has 2 dogs in training that have done bite work, let’s call them Lu and Lo. Lu is a feisty female that looks very similar to Mieke, she has snapped at me but was told “friend” and I was good. Now Lo. My trainer has more faith in my training ability than I do. He loves to see what a dog is capable of and to get them used to male, female, young, old etc handlers. And don’t get me wrong I love that he pushes a dog’s mind this way and adapts them to every situation he can think of. BUT – Me no like Lo. He’s a Belgian Malinois. My experience with Belgian things are as follows:

Belgian Waffles

  • Light and Crispy
  • Great with syrup
  • Breakfast food with all sorts of toppings
  • Dessert food with ice cream. Yum

All things from Belgian are not sweet and fluffy!

Belgian Malinois

  • Used as Army, Police and Secret Service dog.
  • Working dog: Protection, Explosives, Narcotics, Search and Rescue
  • Super freaking hyper
  • Badass dog.

Now first off I have a German Shepherd and a Dutch Shepherd mix. They have no interest in protection work at all. They want to lick your face and pretend to be part of the couch. They love to train but they don’t posses whatever it is that makes them want to bite bad guys. And I’m great with that, I never worry about my dogs biting anyone but they bark when people come in the yard. Or around the yard. Or if you’re a squirrel/cat. These breeds are high energy, but on a scale.

Dog scale

  • Pot = Cavalier King Charles Spaniel
  • Crack = German Shepherd
  • Meth = Border collie (or atleast my aunt’s blue merle)
  • Bath Salts = Belgian Malinois

So the story. Lo is trained in German. I do not speak German. But I learned enough to do OB with him and he done great. Did I feel confident enough to ever work alone with him? Hell no. Did I feel confident enough to be in the training enclosure with the head trainer 15 feet away? Apparently. One second he was fine next minute I’m taking a bite to the left bicep. Can you excuse my language for a sec? HOLY FUCK. The latter word being what I repeated over and over again while my trainer choked out Lo and I GTFO-ed. At this point I’ll remind your I’m 5’6 and 125 lbs. I don’t look threatening or scary or like a bad guy.

Couple minutes later my shirt is off in front of people I’m staring at pieces of my arm fat on the ground and by golly I haven’t cried and I’m making jokes. A trip to the emergency room and I cry because I’m afraid of shots and stitches. Yup, I am irrational. But I’m dubbing myself a badass through all this. 2 puncture holes and a gash in my arm. The gash gets 3 stitches because infection has to drain and they can’t sew up the holes. Great.

It’s a week today and my arm is healing, the holes hurt and itch like hell, they still bleed and it grosses me out. I spent the first 2 days afraid to use my left arm and had to have help with everything. Getting dressed, making food, pulling my pants up, showering. These easy things that I took for granted before.

But – this is a very big but – some good came out of this. First, the worse thing that can happen while dog training, has happened to me. So I know what it feels like and I know the signs now. Second, Lo was being trained to be a companion dog for an older man. The head trainer has tried to talk him out of it multiple times to no avail. The man no longer wants Lo or a Malinois. Which is honestly great. Lo needs a strong handler that will work him and challenge him. Lo could have bit this man the same way he bit me. The big difference is I had someone there who is highly trained in protection dogs an knew exactly what to do in regard to pulling him off without damaging my arm further, how to not get bit himself in the process, and the right first aid to administer to a bite wound. The man would not have had that and it would’ve been much much worse.

So this is a sucky yet humbling experience and I’m reminded that all things happen for a very good reason.

 

 

Mieke and The Beam

We dog train on Saturdays and it’s the thing we most look forward to doing. We love the people we work with so much and we are constantly in awe over their dog whispering abilities. Mieke has graduated from basic on-leash obedience and Oakley is still learning his On-leash. Mieke started in March 2016 and we started Oakley soon after we adopted him in June.

 This is Lady Mieke. She’s a 2-year-old AKC Sable German Shepherd born on May 11, 2014. The day after my husband and I got married. She was fate for us and I’m surprised she wasn’t named Destiny. We call her Mieke or Moo. She is super smart and very independent. She is different than most shepherds because she has 2 Alphas – Both my husband and me. She likes him more most of the time until she’s sick or hurt then loves me the most. Picky dog 🙂 She also listens to him better and loves to push me until I give up. I think she’s my training for children.

 Oakley is a rescued Dutch Shepherd Mix. He was 10 months when we adopted him so we picked his birthday to be August 7, 2015, after my great-grandfather who is the reason I love my shepherds so much. We saw him in a Tractor Supply on adoption day and both Mieke and I loved him. I went home and could not stop thinking about him so I went back and picked him up. I hadn’t planned on getting another dog for a while. My childhood Shepherd Mix, Ozzy, unexpectedly passed away in January and my heart was still healing. But my promise to Oz was that I would adopt in honor of him and give all the love I could no longer give to him, to a dog who needed that love more than others. That’s how I ended up with my sweet boy Oakley. He has the same loving and sweet heart my Ozzy did but actually lets me cuddle him like Oz didn’t. He is a quick learner and wants nothing more than to make you happy. And maybe a tennis ball or 20. We have bonded so quickly and he’s helped with the healing of Oz so much. I honestly feel like he was sent by Ozzy. 🙂

We discovered this week that Mieke had been playing us. You see we’ve been doing off-leash training for a while and she was not doing great. She wasn’t doing bad but not the level we expect from her either. We started training her on an E-Collar before we found our trainers and it mostly worked and they suggested we go back to it for off-leash. Now? She’s so on point and just a champ on the obstacle course. Go figure. It’s hard to get Mieke from “Play” to “Work” Mode and the E-Collar signals that for her. I know some people are against E-Collars – I am too – For people who don’t know how to properly use them. But I’m against any training tool used in properly. Remember when I said Mieke was smart? She knew everything we wanted from her and chose not to do it. She did it enough to get by and the collar changed that. To the point that she did this.

 We run her through the obstacles to challenge her mind. German Shepherds are working dogs and she loves to work but we have to make it fun for her. She has never done the beam before and she watched Daniel jump up on it and she followed. She jumped from the ground to the beam on her first try and sat down. This dog is SMART! When she jumped down she was excited barking and running around to all of us to get her congratulatory pets and good girls. We work her for moments like this when she is proud and excited for herself.

Next, I wanted to see if she would do it for me. She’ll do anything for Daniel almost so I placed her on the spool then had her walk out on the beam herself. And she did it right away.

Y’all I don’t photograph well ever but look how happy and proud she in this picture! WE are so so proud of her! We got lucky and their barkbox had been delivered when we got home so they both got some extra special treats and napped for a few hours when we got home. Overall, a fantastic training day!