Life with mara

Dogs are amazing and I am pretty sure we don’t deserve them. I have heard stories of alert dogs getting people diagnosed like that, how cool to see it first hand!

Actually Wednesday was the toughest day we’ve had in a while. In fact, I have been feeling pretty bummed about it to be honest: I know it was asking a lot of her, and she objectively did really well for her age and level of experience, but all the same we did not quite put our best foot forward and that’s been haunting me a little bit.

So THANK YOU all for the votes of confidence, a much needed pickmeup tbh. :sob::heart: We will redouble our efforts and focus specifically on the needed improvements to succeed together this fall. We got this!!!

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Be sure to watch for signs of stress. One of my college advisors ran a group dedicated to providing dogs for people in wheelchairs, and the most common reason for washing out of the program wasn’t behavioral problems it was dogs that were stressed in public. My advisor got one of the washouts, and he could pick dimes or quarters off a concrete floor, pick up a telephone when it rang, open and close doors, but he just couldn’t handle being in loud public places without getting really stressed.

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The first 15min were pretty scary to her, probably partly because I was stressed from the drive and a little nervous to start meeting my new community. Also elevators are new and not her favorite thing. For the first few minutes she was quite fidgety, even quietly whining, but she settled quickly on that front and was soon relaxed enough to drape on my feet during tour stops. She also had a back-it-up reaction to her first marble staircase, but mastered that within minutes, and by the end of our visit she was comfortably heeling in the halls and holding downs and stays in the library and student commons areas. She was still a little jumpy near security doors and elevators, and at times her body language indicated wariness or she strayed off a heel to investigate something without permission. The biggest issue was when someone approached her to pet her unexpectedly, to which she barked. This is a mixed responsibility issue: I would prefer she express that boundary quietly, but also people should not be touching her by surprise, and I should not have let it happen. She expressed no actual aggression, and there was certainly a shared responsibility for the person violating her space plus I wasn’t vigilant enough, but barking in a school is still not good.

Mostly she needs to stop freaking out in elevators and I need to figure out how better to prevent people from trying to socialize with her. The biggest failure was that barking, which I think mostly was my failure as a handler to protect her workspace. The other challenges are those elevators and doors. She has always proven herself overall a very adaptable dog, and my honest assessment is that this will be a very achievable task for her. She just needs some practice in this context… and so, it seems, do I.:woman_shrugging:t2::+1: However she was already adjusting somewhat by the time we left, and I have seen no signs that this is a stressor in any way detrimental to her overall wellbeing. I would never force that on her: her welfare is always paramount.

We will also be moving into our condo two weeks prior to orientation, with the goal that she establishes a routine and sense of stability that includes school and surroundings. I am confident that she will feel much more secure with a routine and home base that includes school/repeat visits, than she did being hauled four hours in the car including an urgent sugar issue stop, to a totally new place with no context. Her first grocery shop was also a big adventure, and it’s old hat now. If I turn out to be wrong, @Chris, you are correct that’s the main reason dogs wash out, and we will reevaluate if we need to.

She just also is more used to a daily life like this (pictured) than she is a city! I think she just needs exposure to it honestly. She has learned how to appropriately handle snow hazards and wildlife encounters, we will learn how to do cities too!

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Also today we wore jellybeans, happy Easter to all who celebrate.

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Mara is one bright and happy dog! She will adapt to city life. Her priority is being with you!

Nice Easter bandanna! Happy Easter!

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(actual birthday is 5/13)

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OMG, how adorable!! Happy Birthday to Mara!!! She is a princess!!! So many gifts and doggie bones but she must wait patiently for the big day!!! :two_hearts: :dog: :birthday:

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(She may have gotten to open one or two a couple days early :wink::grimacing:)

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Haha, yes, I thought so!! She is irresistible!! :two_hearts: :dog:

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Mara, please excuse @panda! The pained look on your face in that first picture is obvious…to at least some of us…though confused by some as being “appreciative!” We hu-mans sometimes think things are cute that you superior canine-types don’t appreciate “quite” as much and we thank-you for your understanding! I’m sure @panda meant well, with no disrespect of your “canine-ness”, and she loves you rabidly (ok, bad term…need to consider the audience)! Anyway, Happy B-Day!!

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This her mom: I think The Look is genetic. I had nothing to do with these pictures, which were actually taken before Mara was born. She is a dead ringer for her mother, although quite a bit more petite, and they have a lot of the same mannerisms.

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Training continues apace. We begin law school in August - that’s super close now!

Mara officially turned 2 yesterday. She is about 6 months into her sugar alert training (remember, I was only diagnosed 9/2023, and her training started a little while after that).

She retains some puppyish impatience at things like waiting in checkout lines, and will sometimes fidget or whine a little. She still doesn’t love elevators but is gaining some confidence since the local hospital agreed to let us ride theirs for practice (my town does not have very many buildings with elevators).

My parents came out last week and while we were sipping refreshments on the porch after a hike, Mara disappeared. She re-emerged from her doggie door moments later toting a juice box, which she dropped on my lap and then bonked me with her head. Check the CGM and sure ‘nuff, it’s 72 with the big down arrow. Drank the juice and gave her a cookie and my folks absolutely couldn’t believe it :sweat_smile::woman_shrugging:t2: I hold her to extremely high standards and I think I kinda forget some of what’s special and exceptional about her sometimes, mostly for lack of anything to calibrate against. I think sometimes other people have better perspective than I do on our performance, because I always see what needs improvement and others seem to see what’s already awesome!

At any rate these kinds of events give me confidence that our training is working and that she is increasingly capable of doing her job independently. She is very good on voice commands and she’s even learning not to park her butt flag (aka tail) in the aisles at the grocery store where it might get run over by a cart.

Three months til she starts her Juris Dogtor!

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That’s awesome.

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@panda Very impressive, the both of you!

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Agree with the other, BOTH Mara and you are impressive!! Love the nomenclature, Juris Dogtor!

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She is very excited to further her education.

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OMG, Mara really has that scholarly look!!! :two_hearts: :dog: :woman_student:

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She’s really grown up since her undergrad days: we hear grad school is a whole new ballgame. If anyone asks, she didn’t inhale! :wink::rofl:

(It’s a squeaky toy.)

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Awe, she’s so photogenic, intelligent and adorable! Grad school will definitely suit her judging by her talents as dia doggie (and your training!)!!

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Thank you @ panda for sharing your story. M is wonderful. It is amazing what animals can do. Your story made me miss my Chocolate Lab Luke, some times referred to as cool hand :grin: Luke had no training but when I had lows he completely changed & would calmly lay his head on my lap. He was the best alert I ever had. He’s gone now but His brother Augie & I miss him very much. Oh Luke is the big one in the photo :smiley:

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