Today something really interesting and fantastic happened! I was out in the yard with Eva and she picked up a stick (that’s not the amazing part, bear with me). Instead of playing tug with her, like I would have in the old days, I invited her to jump up on me. And she did, this is not new. But as I encouraged her to carry the stick around the yard and then return to me for a jump-up and a gentle push, something really cool happened. Firstly, she sustained contact with me for much longer than normal. Then, she ran over to our rock that we use as a box, stood up there holding the stick and–wait for it–STARTED DROOLING.
Now, sometimes when a dog’s behavior is out of the normal and they start drooling, you might want to take them to a vet. However, sustaining contact, calmly carrying and holding the stick, and finally drooling are all actually very good things!
A few hours later, she was laying on her indoor box (a plastic crate) waiting for dinner. Instead of giving dinner, which wasn’t properly thawed yet, I decided to hand feed her some sea-bones (non-affiliate link). So we worked on collecting, not just the down, but really getting collected. Something that has taken me a LONG time to understand is the nuanced art of collecting a dog, and the absolute primal importance of it. So I took my time. She surged. Hand fluttered away. She collected, hand moved towards snout. She surged, hand fluttered. And so on, you get the picture (at least, my fellow NDTers do).
As Eva got more and more collected, she kept scooting her butt backwards on the crate, creating a posterior tilt with her pelvis. Her snout wrinkled a bit when she went to surge (the common fear smile), but the surging and snout wrinkling eventually subsided and turned into, yes, once again, DROOLING.
After years, and I do mean five long years, I have finally, by the grace of God and the patient teachings of Kevin Behan, gotten this dog into a state of hunger over balance (for a few moments at least).
Sometimes it’s the little, and I do mean very little things that have the biggest significance. A small amount of drool–which to many dogs is a natural and everyday occurrence–means that Eva is finally becoming magnetic vs. electric, and going by emotion rather than instinct.