Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Episode IV: A New Hope (part 2)

I did another session with Laev behind the fence with the cat. My perfect plan would have been to do it Tuesday, to take advantage of any possible stiffness or soreness from her hours of running and wheeling on Sunday, but it didn't work out -- and she didn't look that sore, anyway. Dratted fit dog.

Today, though, I stopped and bought a new tripod on the way home and set up the video camera, fed the cat, and hit record. The cat was eating happily about 25' outside the fence, a comfortable distance for her. She was not active at all, just still and eating and then still and bathing, no real movement to speak of.

(The cat is always free to leave at any time, but she doesn't mind the food and the amusement of driving the dog nutty.)

Laev went bonkers for the cat, right on cue, but it was much less than I'd expected. No screaming, no biting at the fence, just running. She looked almost manageable. However, she couldn't interrupt her running for a long time, even though I got a few "dry" clicks (she didn't stop for her cream cheese) as she glanced briefly in my direction.

She finally did recall the nature of the game, though, and she stopped running at a time well short of three hours. ;) It was very obvious, though, when I over-faced her with a request ("sit") she couldn't bring herself to obey; she took off running again, even though she'd shown no inclination to run the moment before. Again, Laev handles all internal conflict through movement or her jaws; it's self-reinforcing to dump that stress. I'm going to have to figure out a way to prevent that, though, so that she can't get more R- by running than R+ by staying.

But Laev pulled herself together and actually started thinking for a short time, before my husband pulled in the drive. At his approach, the cat ran about 15' away, and Laev lost all brainpower. It took her QUITE a while to bring herself back. In the end, we were able to heel all the way to the house again, but it wasn't quite as good as Sunday, I don't think. (I'm not terribly proud of my technique today, either; I was a bit slow.) We did go through an entire 8 oz can of cream cheese, which might be a problem if Laev weren't running it off so efficiently.

I don't know if I've mentioned that Laev has indeed caught prey, including cats, before; we're working against previous reinforcement as well as genetics here.

I'm rendering that digital video now and will review it and then edit it to a manageable length, to ask some friends and gurus for help. I want to make sure we're progressing as quickly and smoothly as we can.

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