12 May, 2010

VSR: Variable System of Rewards

This guy frequents Sue's backyard.

It happened again. In fact, the next afternoon. This time, I found my little mushroom in the near-by schoolyard to the puppy walk. She was lying in the middle of some children with two adults watching. As I walked up, I watched one young boy go fetch her some water and put it in a frisbee for her to drink, which she eagerly did. Poor lost dog that she was. The man had also called the number on her tag and he had left a message saying they had her. Déjà-vous. How many times we went through that with Clara. I thanked them profusely while Zeetie wrapped herself around me.

She is somewhat treat-oriented (not nearly as much as Trickster) but is quite used to much better things Cher tells me. Better better treats that than her crossing Scott Street.

We used to run nine dogs in 225,000 acres of National Park land off leash at least three times a week. Early on, we had a problem with not wanting to get in the truck. We did two things, one - on trail we would carry and provide to "dogs that checked in" chicken hearts and gizzards from a fanny pack. Checking in was important to us so we PAID for it. Getting in the truck - that final COME had huge value, so every few times I'd make meatballs of hamburger and garlic. And after releasing the dog to go run - I would THROW those meatballs all over the back of the truck, dozens of them. When the dogs jumped in the truck, they would find that JACKPOT and go ape because they'd just run 5 miles and were starving, the last dog or two in - getting nothing but lovely air to smell.

With a few episodes like that scattered through normal outtings, they would hit that truck when we got back like a TON of bricks, all nine at once. A variable system of rewards, sometimes small, sometimes large, sometimes none is referred to as VSR. VSR is what makes gambling addictive. Sometimes a little, sometimes none then WHAMMO and unpredictably JACKPOT.
With Don away, I wake up with Zeetie next to me in the morning. Her little smiling face waiting for a smile back and tummy rub as she lies there on her back.

Saturday, 15. May

It started out as a beautiful day so we headed out to Sue's. On the way, I stopped to take a photo for Sue of this old split tree. As I crossed the road, I heard Zeetie barking at being left behind. The next thing I knew, she had jumped out of the half-open window and was crossing the road. Thank goodness the cars coming up at 80km were far enough back that they saw her jump out and slowed down.

Sue was busy baking like a crazy woman. I managed to come home with a most lovely lemon pie and cranberry scones.

Zeetie had a blast for 3.5 hours, playing endlessley with Skye except for the occasional breather.

That meant a little digging for a nap. It was very strange without Marsha there. It seemed so quiet with 'only' four resident dogs.

Sunday, 16. May

I took Zeetz for her last walk last evening and we joined Gus for his. Zeetie was pretty pooped so she didn't play too, too much. She almost gave me a heart attack, though. We were walking along the fence line of the transit way and at one point I turned back to check her. She was gone. She had wiggled her way under a bunny/raccoon opening in the fence, even though the fence was sticking out towards her. I panicked, sure she would get down onto the transit way and be hit by a bus. Val, Gus' grandmom, pointed out that it's quite a cliff and nearly impossible for her to get down. I think Zeetie started to panic and we saw her again, running back along the fence line along the inside. Whew. We encouraged her back through the small opening and she was home free. Gus was very excited she was back.

Monday, 17. May

I've been trying out Cher's 'come' system. This VSR (Variable System of Rewards) is working great. It's so much fun because, although she has to take a few seconds to think about it as Pyrs do, she comes trotting over and even occasionally, comes on the run. Yippee.

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