Monday, January 29, 2007
Birthdays and dog days and work
Well my bigger girl is 11 and I find it astonishing. not exactly an original thought, but there it is. She had a crappy morning at school, but a good afternoon, and gave out lollipops to all her classmates, then took the dog for a walk in the mountains, didn't have homework...thank god, and got some gifts that I hope she likes.
Her Great Aunt, who lives in Canada at this point gave her an amber necklace, and her parents got her some spectacular shimmering iridescent fabric, all golds and blues and yellows and reds (if I do say so myself). Also two books that I adored when I was her age, Dragonsinger and Dragonsong by Anne McCaffery. They are stories of a girl who is not accepted by her family for who she is and her marvelous talents, and her voyage to where she can become who she will be. This reflects nothing on my family, as they were endlessly supportive and encouraging coupled with high expectations for which I am always grateful, I think it speaks more to the problems facing any young person heading into the changes and creation of themselves that they work their way through as they become an adult in a sometimes hostile and unsupportive world. Anyway, that sounds all very deep, and maybe it is, but they are great stories, with dragons, and smaller pet size dragons, and singers and music...well, I loved them, and I've been waiting for her to be old enough to enjoy them. I haven't read them in years, I hope I won't be disappointed reading them with adult eyes.
The dog - Chuck. He seems to be doing fairly well today. I had to carry him up the stairs the first time this morning and then I did a little research, and found a great website aimed at people bringing home adult dogs from the pound and how to tackle some of the issues. The stair issue? Food bribe. Dogs are complete suckers for a treat, and it is supposed to work. So off we go to the doggie store where Chuck gets nipped by another dog..instead of any sort of aggressive reaction, he pees on the floor. Good? Bad? I don't know, I prefer it to him turning into a ravaging pit bull. Anyway, got back to our apartment with it's four flights of stairs. No go on climbing up. None. So I show him a little snack..."Oooohhh" his little doggie brain thinks...he reaches forward a little, and I toss it up onto the landing. Up we go! Then he lays down and cowers at what he has done. Repeat on the next flight. At this poing he thinks he has done enough. Lovely door mat to lie on, potted plant to pee in, why go farther? I have to hold the treat in front of his nose as he climbs up for this one. Then again for the last, but he made it on his own two feet! Yeah for him, and for me for figuring that one out.
Next time we go up, he climbs the first two without even seeing the treat, but needs to be lead up the second two. Third try, does it all the way, looking unhappy, but accepts the treat, then this evening....all the way up at a brisk walk, no cowering no apparent fear, and went all the way in almost forgetting the treat!!!!
He is mostly coming when I call him, not so anyone else, and is occasionally following me slavishly around the apartment. Wonder if I could teach him to cook? He responds more to snapped fingers than claps, and thinks that when I say come here in Catalan when we are outside that it means come here. When we are inside, he thinks it means go lie down in the front hall. We are still having a little trouble getting him out of the front hall. He will now come in on sufferance, but returns as soon as he can gracefully. I think he was not allowed in the main house wherever he lived before, and the reinforcement was sufficiently strong that he is unwilling to break it. Give him time.
He refuses to obey sometimes, simply lying in place stubbornly. We don't know enough about him, or dogs to know if this is his personality, or if he hasn't got a clue about what we want, what with the language barrier...he responds to Catalan words, not English.
Anyway, significant progress has been made, and he is not showing any unpleasant traits or aggression. I have managed to get him to sit down beside me when a car goes by, which in his book is VERY scary..given that the sidewalks here are about 8 inches wide, who can blame him. He had one go at counter-surfing, after I had made the kid's salami sandwiches, but that was quashed fast, and we are having a little debate about whether our beds are fair game. He hasn't tried the little one's, the only one up off the floor, but the older child's he wants..we had to remove him four times in a row. He also thinks that my bed is fair game...again it is on the floor, and I had to remove him four times...he kept sneaking back on again.
I am glad to see some personality emerging, he is getting a little more comfortable anyway. It is a little like having an ESL toddler moving in...little understanding, little communication, and a fairly high discomfort level. My only concern is that he may be a bit too calm for his age, he is like a middle aged dog, but is apparently only about a year and a half...I don't know.
Good news on the work front as well, the language school in town called this evening, in between the birthday greetings that the birthday girl got, and I have been asked to come in tomorrow for an observation...this is me sitting in on a class to see how they teach it. Standard practice, and it is a brilliant one. I get to see how the school handles things, and where things are, and the kids don't have to sit through quite so much of my learning curve. This is good too, because it means they are considering hiring me...though I haven't seen a contract, I have obviously passed some sort of hurdle. Yipee!