posted by Doranna Durgin

It's been a month now--to the day--since the Giant Schnauzer broke loose from her handler, charged across that considerable open ground, and grabbed up Connery. And a month since Belle and her rehabbing spine returned to careful trialing with that obedience and rally weekend. And a month since my wrist was sprained-no-broken. So it seems about time to aim the looking glass that way. I promised I'd let you know, and I am!

Belle, I am so pleased to say, continues to rehab apace. She needs more fitness and tune-up, but she nonetheless burst back into trialing with great glee this past weekend. She ran two days of a three-day trial, and though we lost one Q to a bobble (I should have held her hand in a place where I didn't, and where I'm not used to providing such "green dog" support to her), she never knew she'd made a mistake and that's all that matters (hey, I just kept running and cheering as though she'd been correct!); she came off the course grinning like a fool. And meanwhile she earned three other Qs, including a Double Q toward her coveted PAX title. Akc_pax_smShe's entered in another trial in a couple of weeks, and will be carefully conditioned in the interim.

She was not untouched by the attack, as it happens. During the course of this trial, Connery had reason to feel threatened--it was nothing, but he's taking the "better safe than sorry" approach--and he sounded the alarm. Back at the set-up, Belle instantly flung herself at the soft crate entrance, wailing her need to come to the rescue (as if she could). Fortunately, a kind friend kept her calm and secured, and now we know to be prepared. So she, too, remembers that day.

Turns out I was really not untouched by the attack, as my wrist continues to be a serious problem. For one thing, it hurts. A lot. And it no longer seems as though it's a simple sprain, but is likely broken. I'm currently adrift in the medical community, stuck between Doctor 1 and Specialist Doctor 2. My jaded hope is that by the time the system rolls on, I'll be healed enough to confidently say, "Never mind to you too."

Meanwhile, I can show you how to do a whole lot of things without using your thumb on your dominant hand, or applying torque to that hand at all. Opening doorknobs, picking up big drink mugs (here in the desert, there's always a Size Huge insulated mug of ice water or iced Propel at my side), uncapping and applying chapstick, using a pen...jacket zippers (crate zippers!), opening small bottles...you name it. Stuffing pills down dog throats, though...that still takes the thumb. Still working on that one. And don't even ask me about mounting up the horse without using the offside hand. Just don't. Holding the reins, I can manage. But he's probably well within his rights to give me that look when it comes time to mount up. (Don't ask about the girth, either. Or those teethmarks in the billets.)

And Connery...

Connery's been to three trials. He started off shaky--we both started off shaky. It wasn't a good weekend, that first. I cried a lot. He hesitated on the course and needed me to hold his hand the entire way. But we've been pulling off some Qs--some by the skin of our teeth--and he's been gaining confidence on the course. Off the course is a different matter--he's excruciatingly alert to every nuance of movement from neighboring dogs; he can't handle eye contact or the merest suggestion that a dog is off-leash outside of the course. He warns me. Loudly. "BAWH! CAREFUL, MYMOM! THERE'S ONE OVER THERE!"

I don't blame him.

We have new habits, now, sweeping the entire trial site for signs of dogs off-lead, keeping an eye open for any dog who might seem threatening to him. I ask people to tend their dogs when they get careless; I ask them to move away from our set-up space when they crowd us. I carry Connery a lot (wrist or no wrist--!). This past weekend--our largest trial yet since the attack--I once casually covered his eyes at just the right moment so he never knew he was carried right past a Giant Schnauzer. I expect to do it again, as needed. People think he should socialize and "overcome his fears." I think not. I think he did that once and it turned on him, and that it's now my job to keep him safe from those fears while I build his confidence in other ways.

In the meantime, the incident has precipitated an ulcer--poor kid, his whole world must seem like a potential attack out of nowhere at this point--and he's being treated for that. He's beginning to feel a little better on that front.

But in spite of all that, he's pulled in four Double Qs toward his MACH in the past three trials. Of the Qs we lost (they add up to four of fourteen runs), three were due to his fears. (One was due to a stumble on my part, which misdirected him.) Mere moments of hesitation, that's all they were--but that's all it takes at this level. I haven't told him about those, though. Mainly I continue the course as though nothing's happened--albeit with more enthusiasm, so he also doesn't worry about his lapse.

0711tucsonbellesm So here's Belle, coming back from her injury in style...and here I also have Connery, courageous little guy trying harder than I ever expected, even with an ulcer building in the background. So I'm thinking...could there be a luckier dogmom, to have two like these? They aren't the very fastest and they aren't the very bestest, but by golly don't they have all the heart?

(photo by Doghouse Arts, from 10/16/08)

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