Trips to visit family are different for everyone, I am sure! In my experience, there is a lot of valuable (and at times overwhelming and crazy) family time, but also, there is alone time. That seems weird until you think about it — at home, there are constant, readily available, and pressing distractions. At home, extra work is always right in your face, beckoning for attention. However, in a new environment that is not your own space, there is alone time where you aren’t familiar enough to be working or cleaning every moment. Those are what I call the “in between” moments of travel. When visiting family and traveling with a dog, those in-between moments can take on many different meanings. (Caring for another creature somewhere new, dealing with family who aren’t crazy about dogs, etc., can all fill good parts of this allocated time/space!) I experience the same ups and downs of anyone else who prioritizes a dog in my travel, but I have to say, the “in between” travel moments are some of the most special time I get with Miles, and I am careful to make them really count. For a duo that spends nearly every waking moment together, this says a lot about how special these times can be.
A great pleasure for me is that on every rare trip, I find the time for Miles and I do really the kind of really FUN training that I do NOT have time to do in daily life. To me, this is luxury and a treat. When traveling, I bring a clicker, and during a little portion of our “in between” time, I teach Miles a new trick. This trip, I taught Miles how to “Sit Pretty.” This classic trick is not only really cute, but a great physical conditioning exercise for a canine athlete (more on Canine Conditioning to come on this blog!). I trained this trick in a different way than I’ve seen done before, which I hope to cover here soon. I tailored it be specific to terriers. Terriers are very boxy, stiff, and don’t have the natural range of motion that many other dogs do. I wanted to teach Miles to hold this position without his front legs staying stiff and upright (looking like a person with raised arms). Instead, I wanted to teach him to relax his front legs, to balance, and most of all, to focus on solely working his core muscles. It was a huge success! Here are two pictures from our first two sessions.
Miles was never a big “fetch must happen” kinda guy. I raised him intentionally this way. This breed has a real propensity towards fetch-the-ball obsession. I’ve come to not only really value how careful I’ve been, but also to enjoy our “alone time special occasion” fetch routine.
I love this goofball.