Before this year I had never been to a dog park - I lived in a dog park practically. I still don't love dog parks because they make me nervous - all the strange dogs that have never met, running around with toys to guard and humans to take ownership of - but I do realize that sometimes they do have benefits since I was worried about my dog not experiencing enough canine socialization. The first weekend I was in Philly Liberty and I went to the dog park. She likes other dogs so I thought this would be fun for her. She was terrified. The dog wouldn't go within 50 feet of the entrance for 30 minutes! Gradually we worked up to sitting next to the gate and watching dogs go in and out (During this time she was huddled between my legs looking like I was torturing her). But gradually she became more curious until we got to the point where we could go inside. Once inside, she reverted back to square 1 - huddled between my legs, terrified. After about another 20 minutes she began to wander to see the other people and sit between their legs - not quite the behavior I was looking for but a step in the right direction! Very gradually she investigated the other dogs, venturing out to see one then running back to my legs. Until a 6 month old Goldendoodle came in the park - these two hit it off and she finally played! Thankfully she has improved greatly and she now gets excited as soon as she knows we are walking to the park - she loves to play in the baby pool full of water that they have set up, and she plays with any dog that is smaller than her (she definitely likes to be the one doing the beating up, rude). I think that she has come to the realization that she is, in fact, a dog and not a human. Well, maybe she's just realized that dogs are fun to play with - she still thinks she's a human.
As always, we are practicing low blood sugar alerts frequently. She gets practice with live lows almost daily and about once or twice a week I practice with scent samples. Her precision has been improving - typically she alerts right at 80/81 or below. I've noticed she might be alerting to me dropping - a few times she's alerted and I've been in the 90's, I then tell her "We'll watch" and recheck in 5 minutes. When I recheck I'm often in the lower 80's or the 70's. She never gets rewarded unless I'm at 80 or below, but alerting to drops could be very useful to whoever she is placed with.
We need to work on extreme lows as she is only familiar with lows in the 70's and upper 60's. A few days ago she gave me a very half-hearted, unsure alert. It consisted of pacing, stretching, yawning, and a little whining. These are often her 'pre-alerts', before she gives me the paw. I didn't feel low in the slightest and had just eaten and drank a soda recently. So, with this unsure alert I thought she was maybe bored and false alerting. But I checked my blood and the meter read 46! This is very unusual so I rechecked and it read 67. Both times I used alcohol and my hands are clean, so I'm not sure which was accurate. I didn't start to feel low until my sugar was rising - and even then I didn't feel terrible. This is what makes training DADs difficult - each meter is different and even the same meter will give different readings. But, typically with enough tests I can get a sense of what the actual number is. And in this case, my sugar was definitely low and Liberty was right in that it was low. She got her puppy party and I drank some juice.
A few of Liberty's favorite things: swimming, the dog park, people obsessing over her, ice cubes, hotdogs, morning snuggles, liver, and chasing squirrels.
Some things Liberty does not like: being left alone, me not letting her chase the squirrels, walking past the dog park without going in, and being ignored.
This little Munchkin is doing very well at just 6 months old! Currently, I'm thinking that Liberty would be best suited to be placed with an older teenager or a young professional. She needs someone that she can be completely loyal to and will be her "person" alone. She will also need to be placed with someone within a few hours drive of Philadelphia so that we can gradually transition her over multiple months. If you or someone you know could benefit from Liberty, feel free to contact me or fill out the DAD application (tab above).