It's been about five months since Nala and I qualified (AKA graduated). It's amazing how quickly some relationships come together and how easy it's been with her. Jetta and I eventually worked well together, but it took over a year before the two of us were completely bonded. I don't think Nala and I are fully bonded yet, but we're definitely on our way. She never ceases to amaze and surprise me and I really appreciate her.
Yesterday we headed to the Pilates studio. My first client showed up early so I took a cab there instead of walking. I would have preferred to walk-I just like the exercise and it also chills Nala out while I'm massaging-but I didn't want to leave the client sitting there too long. Nala was a bit restless for the first 15 minutes of the massage or so, just shifting positions a lot and sighing, but she soon settled in. I didn't have much time between client 1 and client 2, so she just stayed lying at the foot of the massage table while I changed the sheets and talked to the second client. I had more time between client 2 and 3 and I was also alone in the studio by then, so I took her leash and harness off to let her roam about while I got ready for the next person. The funny thing is though, she didn't go very far at all. She did poke her nose into a garbage can at one point, but a "hey, leave it" from me sent her trotting on. She made one circuit of the studio, checking things out and returned back to me. She stood and watched as I changed the sheets and then I went and sat on a little couch that is in the waiting area. I thought with her gear off she'd wander around a bit more, but instead she curled herself into a ball at my feet and stayed there until client 3 arrived.
Both of my previous dogs would have wandered off and probably gotten into something they should not have. If not, they would have found a spot to lay down in that wasn't on my feet. It made me feel good knowing that she had the choice to be elsewhere, but she chose to sit with me. She was excellent for clients 3 and 4., Aside from some light "woofing" in her sleep you'd never know she was there. Thankfully all of my clients thus far have been dog people and think her deep sighs, snuffles and sleep woofing are cute.
After a fairly full day, I cleaned up the treatment room and headed home. Nala was definitely keen to be on her way and did a great job navigating rush hour. As we walked I began to notice that I let her make more decisions than I ever let my first two dogs make. If she chose a certain path to walk, I didn't question her and just let her go along. I've learned that there's a difference between keeping on your dog and making sure it doesn't misbehave and letting the dog take the lead, so to speak. For example, on the way home there comes a point where you can either turn left and walk down a busy street home, or you can turn right and walk behind the buildings along a pedestrian cobble stone street. Nala always likes going right and I just let her. I give her the cue any way so that she doesn't think she's doing whatever she wants, but ultimately, I let her guide me the way she wants to go. It can also get confusing back on that cobble stone street and I used to make Glacier walk a very specific path, but with Nala I let her pick the path and she does a much better job than I ever did. Of course there are times when she decides to be naughty, like when she stopped to slurp a little kid on the nose when we were walking by, and those are the times when I am supposed to stop her or re-direct her so we can carry on.
I don't know if there's more trust there between both of us. she likes working and that makes it easy to like working with her. I feel like somehow we've worked out the balance of dog doing her job and human overseeing that job and that allows us to work really well together. It also seems like when we go out and work, just the two of us for the day, we are even more bonded by the time we get home.
I'm totally smitten with this dog of course, but even more so with the amazing working relationship we have even after such a short time. She makes me feel like we could move mountains together.