Monday, April 13, 2009

Coco's First Official Obedience Class

Well, Coco and I had our first obedience class tonight. After observing for a month the new session started and we joined the other dogs and their handlers. I was more nervous than I thought I'd be. My heart was racing. Coco was ready to work.

The trainers were fantastic. They explained the dog behavior of a dog like an Akita, Doberman and German Shepherd and gave us very helpful techniques to use to help us have a great training session.

My processing problems from the brain injury became clear whenever I had to process information and do something new and go quickly. Something simple like hearing the trainer telling us to change directions and turn around and to keep going and remembering what to do with Coco to keep her at heel was rough. I felt like I was swimming through the atmosphere for awhile. It was hard to breathe and my heart was beating fast. But about halfway through the class I started feeling more comfortable. I don't know if I could have handled it if Coco and I hadn't been working this past year, getting ready for this day to come. It is so strange and hard to explain the disjointed mental and physical coordination that makes me feel so out of it. After some time, or through repetition it seems to get better. But it is always confusing right when it is happening.

Despite this though, it is empowering when I keep going and there is a breakthrough. By the end of the session Coco did a figure eight around two other dogs and was the dog standing still for the other dogs to do a figure eight around her too. I couldn't believe it. It was such a great feeling to know we could do this.

My daughter came with us and observed how we were doing. She had some great tips and her observations were fantastic. I am so grateful that she has decided to come and be a part of helping me train Coco to be my service dog. I'm so grateful to learn from her. And to be loved by her.

This week Coco and I will work on sit and down stay and work towards being able to do this for three minutes. She so loves to work. And I love to be a part of this process.

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