It has been, let me tell you, exhausting. I don’t have much in the way of internet access, which is why you haven’t seen a post from me (for which I apologize – It’ll get better after we graduate July 12!). I am planning to do a big wrap-up post, probably Sunday, to give you a better idea of how things are going.
The short answer is, it’s hard. My back has been acting up the entire time I’ve been in training. I’ve been constantly exhausted. Hudson is…such a mix. Sometimes this eager dog who wants to do everything for me but most especially wants to be close to me, and sometimes this frustratingly uninterested ‘make me’ lump of fur. He’s incredibly sensitive, which is great as far as matching my walking pace, but also means that he gets distracted and startled easily. It took him 3 days to decide I was worth bothering with at all. Oh, he was basically obedient, but not interested in me in the slightest. And then, overnight, he wanted me to pet him, wanted to lean his head on me, and cared what I did. It was a nice change, but boy were those first few days rough!
Today was one of those m’eh days. He was challenging, he didn’t want to pay attention, and he sure as hell didn’t want to pick up the empty plastic tube that once held Cheetos. At the same time, he didn’t outright refuse to do things, and while it required a lot of patience on my part, we did make it through the skills we were supposed to work on today.
It’s rather terrifying that we are more than halfway done. Next Sunday, they send us out into the real world. It’s still very surreal. The idea that he’s really here, really with me for the rest of his life, is still hard to wrap my head around. We have a long way to go to get to being like those service dog teams that seem to just respond automatically to each other! However, between his intrinsic desire to help and my patience and bit of experience with dogs, we are probably doing better than most of the teams. Just don’t ask me how often I’ve had to mentally take a break and step out of a situation where he was frustrating me so that I could stay up-beat with him. He is working hard to learn to work with me, and deserves nothing less. Being a dog, he doesn’t take his frustration out on me (he just shuts down sometimes), so why on earth could it be right to take mine out on him?
The boyfriend has been absolutely amazing, constantly there to support me and understanding that my thoughts and life revolve around Hudson right now. Honestly, I can’t think of a time in since June 20th when I’ve not thought about Hudson for 5 minutes. I don’t think I’d last long in his position – this dog is the center of both of our lives right now, and he can’t even make eye contact with Hudson. It’s not allowed, to encourage him bonding with me. He’s not even supposed to say Hudson’s name – we call him Bandit when we’re talking about him.
To be honest, mostly I am just too tired to think beyond tomorrow right now. If I just hold out, I get a day off on Sunday. I am very much looking forward to that. I have not slept enough hours in a night for most of my training, as I have to be awake at 8:30, a full hour before I normally get up at home when I am doing nothing.
The hard part is that my prescription for my main painkiller has run out – I have 2 pills left. Somewhere in the move and getting ready for training, the stupid piece of paper was misplaced and I cannot get a new one until Monday. That means 2 full days without it, and as I need to be functional on a several hour long field trip tomorrow and thus will have to go without Saturday and Sunday. I can only hope I will still manage some sleep, through the pain, because without adequate sleep I am so much worse off.
So, here is hoping I will manage to get through the next week and a bit with sanity and dog-relationship intact. Health, I know, will be frayed around the edges with all of this work, but that is life, for me.