Atty and I have continued to work on these skills and I’ve had to trailer him a couple of times in the past year – once in July 2015 and twice in November 2015.
The first two trips were to see Dr. Judith Shoemaker to help him with a lameness issue he has had for a long time. Dr. Shoemaker does not make house calls to people who live only 90 minutes away!
The first trip to see Dr. S., Atty loaded right away and I was already behind him and closed the butt bar immediately. I clicked and treated him and then went back to close the back doors. I clicked and treated again. Then I worked on closing the side door, which he does not like. He keeps trying to push the door open. So I threw in a handful of treats into the hay bag so he’d dive for them. Then I could close the door. Off we went.
The return trip was okay for loading, although not quite what I’d want to be the final behavior. We need much more practice for that. He didn’t want to load at first and I did use a little bit of pressure. Dr. S. does not have a driveway gate at her place so that means that if he got loose, he could run out to the road in front.
While I’d rather not use pressure, it really wasn’t much.
However, the fact that I had originally loaded him at home by closing up the butt bar right away, meant that he was now sensitized to that being a predictor of a real trip being in the offing and not just a practice session.
Note to self: Keep the routine.
The second trip to Dr. S. started much better because I kept our routine, but the homeward trip was slightly worse.
We had some upset during the visit so both of us were a little bit agitated. Okay, I was a lot agitated!
Atticus again did not want to load and I had to use a bit of pressure to get him to load. It was slightly more than I had had to use the previous trip. But still not too bad.
The third trip that we made included Ollie and we went to see Wendy Murdoch for some Feldenkrais work on them.
We arrived at the barn about 4:30 p.m. which was after dark. By the time Wendy was finished with both of them, it was about 7. Ollie is more easily coerced into loading so he went on first. He was NOT happy about it until Atticus returned to where Ollie could see him.
Atticus didn’t want to load. Really didn’t want to load. It was pitch dark and in a strange place. I had both the interior and exterior trailer lights on to help us, but I don’t think he cared much.
He didn’t want to go on by himself with me next to him. And he wouldn’t even try if I was ahead of him in the trailer.
A lovely person there at the clinic by the name of Claire was very, very helpful in getting Atty to load. She stood by his head at the back of the trailer while I tapped his hip. There were goodies in hay bag. While it seemed like an eternity, he loaded within about five minutes.
Thank you, Claire! She was so kind, patient, and understanding and didn’t try to tell me what to do or how to do it.
I’ll continue with stories about Ollie in the next installments.
Keep Calm and Carry On!