Kobash and I are always improving as a team. And since I’ve actually been letting him do his job properly, and help pull me out of the malaise and dark pit I’ve been dwelling in for so long, we are getting tighter than ever. His new routine with meal times are making a marked difference in his food obsession. Well at least I’ve been noticing a difference. He no longer is so manic at dinner time that he is howling and kicking up a fuss if I take too long. He has more patience in waiting now. His whole body isn’t a tense and vibratingly ridged on sitting and waiting for his cue to eat. His focus not so much of a laser beam into my face. He still wolfs his food down that quick I’m afraid he will choke on it, but this too will improve with time. His improvement really hit me yesterday. On going out to give the Dogs their meal, I realized that I had forgotten to separate them. If I don’t, Kobash will eat his food even quicker (not good for digestion) and then try to make a grab for Nova’s. This time, instead of getting panicked at the thought that he would miss out because of Nova, he waited as patiently as he could for me to put Nova in another area then come back to give him his food. Now that is a big improvement! He is coming further and further each day. And the extra time that I have been spending with him, and letting him do his job has made such a difference. And in letting him do his job, I’m coming more and more out of the funk I’ve been in.
And because I have been taking more notice of him, I’ve been seeing when he has been giving me cues that something is either amiss or that I’m starting to get overloaded and need a minute to re-centre, or that I have without realizing it, gotten myself into a situation with too many people around and need pulling out. For example, at AsperBoy’s school. Kobash knows how unsettled I am there. If I have to leave my car while there, I try to time it so that its during periods when the kids are in their class rooms. not easy. While walking up the incline to support services, Kobash usually at my side, yesterday he was lagging behind me. I gave a gentle tug at the leash and clicked to get him to keep up, but he refused. I turned my head to see what was going on, he looked at me and then turned his head to the person walking behind us. He had been trying to let me know that someone was walking behind me. He knows that I cant tolerate having people behind me (hence my greater dislike of shopping centres) perhaps bumping into me and startling me. With my thoughts turned inward on the job at hand, I hadn’t noticed. He was looking out for me again. But this time I was more aware of it, and thankful that I was. Because I was early, I had to wait a while. The light in that room isn’t gentle on my eyes, and the noise from the kids that are in there hurts my ears. After having a chat with the lovely lady in charge, I sat down to wait. Kobash plastered himself to my side, then lay down and put his head on my foot. Even that bit of contact can make a difference. And to give him credit, his head was right next to an open garbage bin. No lid, and food was in it. He didn’t even try to stick his head in. Now for my poor Boy, who was starved and neglected so badly that any whiff of food around and he will do his utmost to eat it in the fear that if he doesn’t he will starve again, that was a massive difference.
Looking out the window to the patio out back. The morning sun making its way up the yard and onto the concrete. Kobash is taking advantage of it on this cooler morning. Curled up in the warmth, his blue coat shimmery in the light. I’m proud of how far he has come. From a starved and skinny dog, with dull coat and eyes. Disconnected from people, while acknowledging their presence. Only focused on finding food. To the dog he is now. Healthy, coat shiny and so rich with colour, eyes bright and focused on me. Always aware of what I’m doing, ears flicking in my direction with any noise or movement I may make. Always looking out for me, steering me out of situations that would totally overwhelm me and cause me to flip out.
Connected to me.
Its funny on watching those people try to give him a command and he pretends not to hear them. Those that think that they know dogs and can get them to do anything, try to attempt to make him sit. He will flick an ear in their direction but stay standing. Then will look at me as if to say, they didn’t give me the right signal Mum. He can see the amusement in my eyes. And can see it in his. Then taking pity on the person, I will show them the signal, and if they do it right, Kobash will sit, giving me a look as he does so.
For those that know Blueys, they know that they bond with one person only. They will love a whole family, but connect to only one. I think that that is one thing that can make them such good service dogs also, because of that connection. Their devotion to their person. That coupled with their intelligence, their ability to learn, and their toughness. They have the ability to cope with what ever is thrown at them. Make sudden changes and decisions. Which is crucial for a dog that was bred to herd cattle. And their focus their person, and naturalness at picking up signals, good for those times when talking and voice commands can be too much. Of course that doesn’t mean that every Blue Heeler can be a service dog. Just like not every Labrador will make a guide dog. Its all in the individual. That is what Kobash is about. Showing that its all in the individual.
Not just the breed.