Wednesday, 30 December 2015

Plot Twist: In Which Gatsby Wants Us All To Take It Easy

Gatsby is fed up with our serious analysis and reflection.

Gatsby wants to share her holiday snaps!

You know how postcards always arrive really, really late, long after the traveler has returned home? Well, Gatsby wrote this postcard during her holiday, and I guess it has finally arrived.

Dear all,

This place is great! The sunpuddles are warm, treats in abundance and ohhh, did I mention the grass? It's fluffy and smelly with bugs and sticks! I've been digging as many holes as I can!
The locals are pretty friendly too.

Wish you were here.
xo Gatsby


Well, not really the end, of course. Even though she's back home now, I'm sure I'll be seeing more of Gatsby, and I'll be sure to share my adventures with you. But that's the end of her holiday, so new adventures await!

Wednesday, 23 December 2015

An Incident: In Which We All F*** Up, Sometimes

We are nearing the end of the Gatsby saga, but there's one incident that happened during her stay that I want to share with you all. Because I'd like to know what you guys think, and because the truth is -- we all f*** up sometimes.

About two-thirds into Gatsby's stay, I decided I was fed up with being scratched. I knew it was mainly due to how long her nails were, so I started looking for a groomer. I had no desire to try doing them myself because she's a nightmare to clip. In the past, we've resorted to both K and I working together and Gatsby ingesting a large amount of pawpaw ointment to get a few nails clipped. When I asked K she told me Gatsby could now be clipped by a groomer.

Can you believe this sweet face has been kicked out of two different groomers?

I have to admit -- part of my impatience to have her nails clipped was because I had company that evening and didn't want her scratching my guests in excitement.

Hey! Turn around!

I was hesitating because I didn't know if it would work; Gatsby is afraid of so many things. I didn't have a car to take her, either. While sitting on the issue, I woke up one morning to see a groomer's trailer outside my neighbour's. It was the mobile dog wash kind, obviously a franchise, but I went outside to check it out anyway. My neighbour had used this groomer before for her Golden Retriever and was very happy, and I couldn't watch the actual washing but was happy with the way he handled the Golden so I asked the groomer if he would clip my dog's nails. He asked a couple of questions and agreed easily.

It didn't work. Gatsby was afraid from the get-go. We sat together on the neighbour's front lawn, we tried with me using the clippers, we tried in my yard, we coaxed, bribed, and distracted with plenty of treats. We ended with me restraining Gatsby, groomer failing to muzzle her and Gatsby scratching him and drawing blood.

I felt terrible. I felt really guilty, and really stupid. Why? Because since day one I had been gradually and systematically exposing Gatsby to things she was afraid of. Our first walk she sniffed every single tree, bush and shrub along the way. I let her take her time. From the second or third walk onwards she actually walked. I learned to stop by the side of the road and wait while strangers approached, particularly if they were men or had dogs or children. Soon she waited calmly as they passed or even walked right past them without stopping rather than shy away. At the shops I asked strangers to give her treats. When my friend came to visit I asked her to wait in the hall for a while and toss Gatsby treats through the gate.

I felt this created more confident behaviour rather than the hit-and-miss approach that came of her people frequently thrusting her into many situations she wasn't comfortable with. This gradual approach worked well for both her and me, so I was still doing all of those things outside the house or when someone came to visit. I felt more in control of the situation and less likely to be pulled off the path or have her posturing at toddlers. She was doing very well, but we still had a lot of steps to go.

So I have no explanation for why I suddenly expected her to be okay with a) a stranger, b) who was male, c) who probably smelled like dogs and d) who came at her with clippers. Everything I've ever read told me otherwise, and it went against everything I believed in and the way I'd been working with her.

After the incident I was afraid Gatsby would regress a hundred steps and all my careful work would have been undone. I was afraid she would be more afraid than before of all of the aforementioned things, or even develop new fears. I was afraid she might be wary of me, even.

None of those things happened. She was still fine with strangers walking by as we calmly waited for them to pass. We found her lying at my visiting brother's feet under the table that evening. She absolutely, definitely loved and trusted me as much as before.

Profile view of Gatsby
What's going on inside that little head?

The incident still triggered my depression and I spent the next day in bed. One thing that gave me some peace was when I told my mother about the incident a day later. She told me that this had happened, more than once, when I was a child. I was a fearful child with separation anxiety, and she tried to expose me to more things, like playdates and dance classes. Sometimes it went well, and sometimes it didn't. After the latter, she always felt terrible, and wondered if she'd done the right thing. But I bounced back, just like Gatsby did.

Has this ever happened to you?

Saturday, 19 December 2015

Gatsby's Stay Continued: In Which We Are Told Of The Training That Happened

How do I cope with the desolate reality of not having a dog of my own?

Why, I borrow other people's dogs, of course!

There have been other dogs I appropriated as my own, but my biggest adventure was, of course, The Great Gatsby Project.

While she stayed with me, I walked the adorable 8kg doggie diva almost every day, and:
  • She really grew in confidence. Initially she shied away from people and dogs approaching on walks (her scared ears, pulling me off the path), so when anyone approached I walked her off  the path and we waited until they had passed. Soon she no longer showed signs of fear when people approached. She happily led me past people once or twice without any issues, but I plan to keep stopping by the side of the road and waiting for a while yet, as she’s still bothered by larger groups of people, some dogs, etc.
  • We visited the dog park probably every second walk. We didn't go in, but just spent some time outside the fence. If she led us too close and panicked, we retreated to a 'safe' distance. The aim was to work up to going in.
  • I took her to the shops and she stayed by me while I ate a meal at an outdoor cafe, twice. Whenever strangers wanted to pat her I gave them high-value treats to give Gatsby to remind her that strangers can be a good thing. Gatsby was very, very good at the shops! 

With a canine companion, you never have to eat alone

  • Our family all learnt to use the "Off!" command, and while she never gave up pawing at us, I think it lessened when she realised I was never, ever going to give her my dinner. She still whined when I left the room or when she was left alone for too long, but I tried to wait for a pause or a sit/down before I re-entered the room.
  • I taught her "shake" (shake paws), which is pretty darn cute!
Needless to say, I enjoyed all of this, because I had a companion in my fluffy friend, because every bit of progress was thrilling, and because it was fun!

Sunday, 13 December 2015

Why don't I get a dog of my own?

Remember! Melon's Animal Adventures is now at our new web address, You may need to add the new URL to your feed reader so we don't lose you!

* * *

This is a good time to answer a few of the questions I was asked before my hiatus.

A few of you have asked if I'd like a dog of my own.

A friend of mine, Mom of the acd6pack, asked:
with the support of your family, would a rescue dog of your own be a possibility?  I know you've thought of it in the past and I can't help but wonder if maybe having Gatsby at your home might have made the family see how much fun a dog can be and also that maybe it helped you?
I would love a dog of my own. But it's not a possibility right now. I have dysthymia, which is a chronic (long-term) form of depression, as well as multiple anxiety disorders. Because of this I haven't been able to finish my studies or keep a job. What does that have to do with a dog, you ask? Well, they are just examples which show how disruptive my illness is, and which emphasize that when I say I don't get out of bed or feed myself some days, or I forget to water my plants so they die, I mean it. This means that having a dog isn't going to work, no matter how much I love it or how much care and training I give it on my good days.

A dog is not a plant, people like to say. It's hard to ignore a dog. I know. But my guinea pigs were living, breathing, squeaking creatures and I managed to neglect them more than I'd like. I was lucky that Mom swooped in to care for them - Mom did almost all of the daily care for Cocoa for the last few years.

I need a hooman to hold my foodables for me!

My family are reasonably supportive and helped me out with Gatsby the couple of weeks she was with us, but as we all know, a dog is a 15+ year commitment. I'm can't make that commitment right now and I can't make it on behalf of my parents, who aren't after a dog. Due to my illness I'm also living at home, which means that it's not really fair to my parents to bring in a dog when they aren't after one. (And, of course, having no income means that I definitely can't go out and make a 15-year financial commitment.)

So, to conclude -- I would love a dog of my own.

I do get sad that it's not on the cards, because having Gatsby confirmed what we suspected -- having a dog around can help a lot. While Gatsby was here, I exercised, I slept well (no sleep meds at all!), and I had someone and something to focus on other than myself. But it caused some difficulties, too (more on that later).

Gatsby made a good walking buddy

But I (have to) accept that it's not on the cards right now, just like I (have to) accept not having the life I want right now. I (can only) do what anyone else with chronic illness does -- just put one foot in front of the other.

Thursday, 10 December 2015

We are moving!

Have you ever done dog training atop a ladder, pausing your drilling of the roof while you dig into your pocket for treats? While the dog is on the other side of a fence to you, visible only from the top rungs of the ladder? I did, recently, and we are both alive to tell the tale, although I admit I'll need to improve my treat-throwing aim if there is to be a repeat performance!

To hear how it happened, and for more stories like this...

Stay tuned to Melon's Animal Adventures, which is starting up again. (Hooray!) Our new web address from Sun 13 Dec will be If you are visiting through a feed reader like Feedly or Feedspot, you might need to add the new URL to your reader as the old link won't work anymore. Please check this - I value all of your comments and friendship and don't want to lose touch with any of you!

Don't make me come over there!

Saturday, 5 September 2015

A Note: In Which The Realities of Life Interrupt Our Regular Storytime

Hey, readers.

Been a tad longer than usual since I last posted, but I have to say it might be a bit longer until I get back to regular posting. I'm going through a bit of a rough time right now.

The simplified version is that I lost my job. Now, it wasn't even paid work so it's not a financial issue for me (and in that I am fortunate), but it is another setback in my long struggle to overcome mental illness. I mention this because I admire bloggers who open discussion about real-life issues, such as health problems, tricky relationships or the difficult parts of having pets, and not only talk about when everything goes easy.

So if you are reading this, I'd love it if you took a moment to consider how difficult it can be for people with chronic mental illness to hold down jobs and keep relationships. I'm one of them, but chances are you know someone else who could be in the same boat. It can be easy to forget, when things are going our way.

* * *

the great gatsby project
On the dog front, Gatsby went home kind-of suddenly. Don't worry, she's well and so are her people, as far as I know -- more a change of travel plans. But I'm having some trouble coming to terms with a realisation: it's unlikely much of what I taught Gatsby will stick. And, friends, I taught her a lot. That part of the story will be told later, but while I (and my family) were enjoying having her around, I was also reveling in teaching, training and socialising her to the world outside her home. Now Gatsby's back home where I honestly expect it's straight back to being spoilt rotten, to what I believe is her detriment.

On the other hand, this stay has showed me that she really can survive without her one person -- happily and healthily, in fact. She wasn't overly anxious and made leaps and bounds in confidence in the outside world. I'm very happy for Gatsby, of course, but I certainly have mixed feelings. It raises questions about whether fostering (animals) would be a good option for me, with my love of training and watching others learn; or whether my decision not to pursue a teaching career (humans) is reinforced. I certainly respect teachers who do their job every day, not knowing how much of what they taught will ever be retained outside of the classroom.

Closer to home, knowing now how well Gatsby can do makes me feel like my goal of a comfortable, well-adjusted dog is so close, yet so far. I can't expect K and her family to change according to my beliefs, but I'm sure I'll see Gatsby again. She followed my house rules because I was consistent. Do you think she'll still treat me the same way after going home? Will her people see an improvement in her behaviour despite how they treat her?

I have been feeling much better the past couple of days, so this post might actually get the posting ball rolling again. No promises, but I know you'll understand if I'm not up to it yet.

Monday, 24 August 2015

Gatsby's Stay: In Which Melon Learns That Tiring The Dog Out Has Unexpected Consequences

As you can imagine, having Gatsby here has kept me pretty busy. Since she's so demanding (she whines when I leave the room and bashes doors when left alone, and paws at me when I'm working), I've been giving her good long walks and socialisation sessions, as I have truly learnt the truth of

a tired dog is a good dog.
(With thanks to the wise Hu-Dad of The Thundering Herd!)
I've discovered Gatsby really will be tired and rest from the early evening onwards if I take her for a walk. She runs and chases to her heart's content in my backyard, but it's the walks (and exposure to the big, unfamiliar and ever-changing world, I'd imagine) that tire her out. Unfortunately... waking up early when she does, taking long walks every day while constantly correcting her leash manners and monitoring her reactions to people, dogs and everything else in our world... tires me out too. So instead of sitting down to my blog in the evenings, I find myself dropping off about the time she does... so more from me a bit later!

Monday, 17 August 2015

Book Review: The Power of Positive Dog Training

Funny how life works, isn't it? I was on my way to Gatsby's for my next training session, wondering what I was going to work on. I was starting to feel a tiny bit lost and wished the books I'd ordered online would arrive sooner. I missed the train, and, sighing, ducked into the library to wait until the next one. It was there I found Pat Miller's The Power of Positive Dog Training, and as it turned out, this book was much more relevant and informative to me than the three more specific ones, and well worth the lost training time that day.

Turns out I read the 1st edition
What I like about The Power of Positive Dog Training is that Miller explains the thinking behind the two most fundamental things about clicker training: why train with positive methods, and the role of the clicker.

I have always trained positive since day 1 of my short and recent experience with dog training, because this seems to be the dominant theory right now (as opposed to the dominance theory - ha ha), at least from what I'm exposed to. I guess it seemed to fit in line with my moral views, but to be honest I hadn't thought very hard about it, I just started with what I'm told is effective, and hadn't come across any issues so far. But Miller gives the most reasonable explanation for why train positive that I've heard so far: both positive and aversive training work, but positive training is lower risk and builds a stronger and happier relationship with your dog.

I think the line that has stuck with me the most from this book is
The difference is that an occasional poorly-timed or too-generous treat does no harm, whereas a single poorly-timed or overly strong correction can do serious, even permanent damage to the relationship between you and your dog. p12, Chapter 2: Train With Your Brain, Not Pain
The other thing this book explains really well is the role of the clicker. Not just that it works, or when to use it, but how and why it works. I would like to share the explanation given, because I know many of you train with the clicker, and know how to use it -- but do you know exactly why you use it? If you are recommending its use to others, can you articulate what exactly it adds compared to training with rewards but without the clicker?
I couldn't -- until I read Miller's explanation:
Let's pretend we are dolphin trainers and that we want to train our dolphin to jump out of the water on cue. We can wait by the side of the pool until he jumps on his own accord, then quickly call him over to the side of the pool and feed him a fish. But wait -- he now thinks he got the fish for swimming over to the side of the pool! How do we tell him the fish is his reward for the jump? We could try tossing the fish to him in midair, but that wouldn't be a very accurate or precise way to communicate, especially if our aim isn't very good! p46, Chapter 6: A New Leash on Life
She goes on to explain that we condition the dolphin to a reward marker by feeding a fish every time we blow a whistle, and then blow the whistle at the moment the dolphin does what you are asking for.
The reward marker ... allows you to communicate instantly and clearly with your dog when he does something right. p46, Chapter 6: A New Leash on Life
I personally think that you can train positively and effectively without the clicker (or equivalent marker), but using it is very helpful. Firstly to help communicate the exact behaviour you are reinforcing, as Miller explains, but even more, because it gives the trainer confidence. Learning to use it properly gave me confidence. Both dogs I clicker trained went from hearing and ignoring what was just another sound in the environment to giving me their full attention when I click it. Having the dog respond to it, so intensely, so instantly, reminds me that I can get my canine friend's attention, that I can make changes with a visible and obvious impact. The response to the clicker proves this, so having it in my hand gives me the confidence to keep going, even when I can't imagine how things could change.

I was able to take this photo because I clicker-trained Katie the boisterous Lab to Sit-Stay

(I also find using the clicker keeps me focused. I pay attention to exactly what behaviours my dog is offering/beginning to offer and when, and stay clear on the order of the process -- behaviour-marker-reward. (Not using food as a bribe!))

Has anyone here used the clicker with other animals or even human beings? (I've heard the clicker has been used with good effect in individuals with autism.) I'd love to hear your experience!

Now that I've finished reading it, I have passed this book on to K. Something I genuinely enjoy is having a project, doing thorough research, and finding an appropriate way to achieve it. People don't always share my enthusiasm for implementing my recommended solutions. (Really, Melon? By 'read' all of this, you mean 'skim over', right?) Luckily, K says she is actually looking forward to reading this book, and that it will even give her mind a break from her busy work schedule. I just hope it will provide her with some of the understanding it gave me about what we are doing.

The serendipity of finding this book, which so far has resonated with me more than any other dog training book, serves as a reminder to keep my chin up -- that helpful or interesting things can be found at the most unlikely of times.

Saturday, 15 August 2015

Gatsby is here!

Since I’ve been MIA recently, you’ve probably guessed that the time has come… Gatsby is here! As in, living with me, 24/7, for the next few weeks. So far it’s pretty much been a holiday for her, and I’m hoping to keep it this way.

I’ll be busy for sure, but I’ll be posting a few book reviews, and a couple short updates on our adventures.

She LOVES my yard – it's her paradise. She doesn't have lawn at home, so she especially loves grass, and for a dog so people-focused, I don’t think she would've coped at all without the very enticing yard full of smells and sounds. I’ve totally let the yard go, so it’s got plenty of fun stuff for her.

She runs around, leaping and chasing invisible objects, digging holes and chewing on sticks.

She even has her own sanctioned digging spot, guarded diligently by Mr Froggy.

Sometimes she even finds treasure there!

Thursday, 13 August 2015

The Trial Run: Who Tells It Like It Is, Melon or Gatsby?

Very observant readers will be able to guess why I’ve been too busy to post this week, but before we get into that chapter of the story I should tell you first about Gatsby’s Trial Run!

I’ll cut to the chase: It went really, really, well. Better, in fact, that any of us – K and I for sure – could ever have dreamed. (The lovely Kirsten of peacefuldog can testify that I was expecting absolute drama, and has a desperate email plea for advice to prove it!)

Gatsby stayed calm. Because of this, we humans could relax and enjoy the experience.

This photo was taken from inside the house. Velcro dog outside? Check. Human inside? Check. Pigs flying? Check.

I admit I kind of still can't believe Gatsby spent a whole 24 hours away from home without any meltdowns from either four- or two- leggers, but upon reflection I can credit its success to 2 factors:
  1. Purely by chance, K’s brother dropped Gatsby off. This meant that Gatsby didn’t have to endure K – her one, her only, the light of her life, blah blah blah bark bark bark whine whine –  bringing her somewhere and abandoning her to the oh so cold, empty world beyond and we didn’t have to endure the inevitable whining and carry-on! So she was calm (by Gatsby's standards, anyway) to begin with.

  2. I was super organised and arranged all the details before she arrived. I’m not saying this to toot my own horn, but to have a record here of things that can help me in future, and maybe help you guys too!
Now, which things are we talking about? Well, let's do an analysis.

  • She was calm.
Getting my white fur as brown as possible is hard work!
My explanation: I took her out walking and playing for a good 3 hours as soon as she arrived before I deemed it safe to return home.

Gatsby's explanation: Walk! Park! Mud! Yawn.

  •  Gatsby didn’t have one accident in my house.
My explanation: I treated her like a puppy and took her out after every meal, as soon as we got up, right before bed, etc.

Gatsby’s explanation: Doing business in the house like an uncivilised human? Gross!

(K: And my house, where you live, and pee on the floor all the time, is what – the street?)

  • She didn’t destroy a single unsanctioned item.
My explanation: I did some thorough de-cluttering to our totally un-dog-proof house to keep everything destroyable out of reach.

Gatsby’s explanation: Destroy things? But I like it here.

The gate stops Gatsby from disappearing into the clutter, never to be seen again

  • Gatsby didn’t end up anywhere she wasn’t supposed to be.
My explanation: I bought second-hand baby gates and installed them to block off the kitchen and two carpeted areas.

Gatsby: Ha. I didn’t even try to walk through them! After all… why would I move away from my water, bed, and most of all... my people? ♥

Thursday, 6 August 2015

Training Day 5: In Which All Is Quiet, If Somewhat Confusing, on the Home Front

It was raining outside again. While I didn't mind that Gatsby resembled a swamp monster when she emerged from mud puddles, I figured it was probably easier not to mind if you didn't live within smelling distance, and so refrained from taking her to the park, despite how fulfilling it had been last time.

Ah, well. I was sure there'd be some human-canine bonding activity we could do in the house. K had gone out to an appointment, so I settled down to do some work in the study.

I couldn't concentrate, though, because there was some rattling and howling going on just across the hallway.

Well, then. Training Day 5: House Manners.

I sat down cross-legged on the other side of the gate, and clicked and treated Gatsby when she finally quietened down and stopped rattling the gate. She bounced up again, rattled the gate, and since there was no response, put four back on the floor. Click. 

Rinse, repeat, rinse, repeat.

Soon I was rewarding her for Downs through the gate.

After a while I always wonder if she's getting it or not. Is she back-chaining already (purposely jumping up and back down to 'earn' a treat)? Does she have any idea I'm telling her something at all? I have no idea, so I take a break.

I go in and out for a bit, having lunch, returning to the desk, but later, working in the study with K's brother, I see Gatsby lying quietly by the gate. Not in a Down, just lounging there quietly. Looks good to me.

Does she usually stay there quietly? I asked K's brother.
He replied that she did, but when K got home later and joined us in the study she commented on Gatsby's calm behaviour.

She never just hangs out there quietly, K said.
Really? Your brother said she did.
Well, never when I'm in here, anyway, she clarified.
It sure is hard to make sense of humans too, sometimes.

Anyway, I'm sure I'll have a lot more to report when I can work with her consistently on her 'holiday' -- which is coming up sooner I'd expected!

Monday, 3 August 2015

Training Day 4: In Which We Discover Why Smelling Like A Swamp Means Everything is Awesome

So I just have to share this photo first:

This photo sums up Training Day 4: Gatsby got filthy, we had an awesome time, and I have absolutely no regrets!

The long version? Well, let me see.

Our plan for this session had been for me to take Gatsby to the park alone. This was because K had discovered that after her brother started taking Gatsby to the park by himself, Gatsby actually started noticing and even getting excited when he arrived home. So I was going to do the same. But since I didn't yet remember where the park was, Gatsby and I ended up walking directly behind K and her friend to the park.

When we arrived, the fenced dog area was completely empty! Perfect. I took Gatsby inside and K and her friend went to a tree at the edge of the park to meditate.

I bet you can guess what happened next, right?

What I could see was K and her friend at some distance settled down on a mat opposite each other, talking.

What Gatsby could see was that she was on this side of the fence, and K was on the other side, walking away!
She always reminds me of Lightning of The OP Pack in this photo

What I could hear was Gatsby barking and whining.

What I could feel was her pulling at the leash, wanting to go to K.

I admit at this point I felt frustrated again.*

Great. What can I do if my friend is so disorganised that we can't stick to the original plan of my taking her out of the boring house to the fun park by myself? Instead, all Gatsby thinks is that K's taken her out and abandoned her!

Fortunately - in a manner of speaking - Gatsby's barking got loud enough that K heard her, looked up, saw Gatsby still on the end of the leash, and called, Has she been there the whole time?

I replied in the affirmative.
Should we go out of sight?
I replied, fervently, in the affirmative.
To her credit, K did so immediately, calling, Sorry! I should have realised!

Once K was out of eyeline Gatsby listened to me so I could unleash her, take a deep breath and focus on the task at hand.

There was a bit of wondering what her human was up to while she was here...

... but to my joy it soon turned into running and jumping...

And, of course, taking advantage of all the delights the dog park has to offer.

I had relaxed my eagle-eye watch a little on the usually fearful Gatsby as she was so calm, either ignoring or showing only polite interest in the other dogs that arrived. Not to mention the toddler whose mum had cleverly placed into the double gate area, allowing kiddo to enjoy her outdoor playpen while her elderly little shih tzu mix sniffed and wandered the grass. Gatsby usually barks ferociously at toddlers, but this time was completely unfazed, standing quietly on her side of the fence. So when I turned around from chatting with the mum (who we'd met last time when we discovered the park) to find Gatsby enjoying the giant mud puddle leftover from a weekend of rain, I laughed and let her be.

She only showed her teeth once, late in the afternoon when playfully cornered by three or four dogs led by a staffy puppy (think: boisterous and all puppy), which reminded me that I'd been there for a couple hours and Gatsby must be tired! So I called her to me (she came), asked her for a few tricks so I could reward her, leashed her up and took her home.

I was so pleased and proud of Gatsby, and told her so as we walked back. She walked back totally differently from before - with the leash loose, not charging ahead. I don't know if it was because she was tired rather than rearing to get to the park, or whether it was because K wasn't there for her to constantly chase to make sure she didn't leave her.

But I was made even happier by the fact that I managed to towel and brush her down with her completely relaxed and enjoying it - I guess I finally get why people say if your pet enjoys being brushed it can be a bonding experience.

I guess it also helps if your dog can turn white again with one brush

And like I told K, today I really did like Gatsby - when she could enjoy life and was willing to learn, she was easy to like. So even though I'm told Gatsby still smells like a swamp, I don't care one little bit.

* (After the frustrating session on Day 2, I had written a long and thorough email entitled 'Time to get hard-arse!' to K explaining that I liked her but not necessarily her dog, because Gatsby's bad behaviour got in the way of my getting to know the good parts of her personality. And that if K wanted others to appreciate her dog and her company while with her heart dog, she would have to work with me and most importantly, Gatsby! K thought the email was insightful and agreed.)