Pennsylvania / New Jersey / New York

We arrived in New York City on Monday. I have a friend who lives in Manhattan and lets me crash at his apartment, so I chose to stay there as a home base for my gigs in Pennsylvania and New Jersey.

I was scheduled to be in PA on Tuesday, I didn’t have a class set up (I couldn’t connect with anyone in the entire state) but I do have a client who used to see me when I lived in New York and has since relocated to Philadelphia. So he booked me for two sessions, which made it worth the overnight trip.

I wasn’t counting on the steep tolls on the turnpikes. Between them and the Lincoln Tunnel, I think I paid about $40 round trip, just on tolls. But still, a training session at night and a massage the next morning paid for the tolls, the gas and the cost of the room with enough profit left over to make the time and effort worth it.

I stayed the next night in Manhattan and ventured off the island again on Friday for a class in Colts Neck, NJ. Again the trip was heavy on tolls. I was starting to get used to the idea of rolling down the window and handing more than $10 out as I drove by the booth.

I was aware that I was traveling out of Manhattan on a Friday evening, so I allowed three hours for what google said was a one-hour trip. And I’m glad I did, because it took me the better part of the first hour just to drive from 76th and Columbus to the entrance of the Lincoln Tunnel at 40th St.

Once I got off the island, traffic flowed more freely, and I made good time. I arrived at the Colts Neck Recreation Center; Studio 14 with an hour to spare. No one was there, so River and I took the opportunity to play off leash in the grassy area behind the building.

River did something I’d never seen before. He was running around and I dropped to do some pushups with my hands on the ground and my feet up on a picnic table. When he saw my position, he bolted toward me. He ended up launching and leaping clear over me as I did my pushups. And then he stopped, turn around and headed back toward me again. This time he leapt up and landed ON my back so he could launch himself off. I never missed a pushup as he played around me, but I did have to stop and laugh.  Of course, I was doing pushups at the time so I couldn't capture it on video. I've noticed that a lot of the best stuff comes from River when I don't have the camera on him. Here's some video of him running around a bit, but nothing too special happened.

Eventually the mayor of Colts Neck showed up to greet us. He was also the manager of the rec center and was very excited to meet River and I and hear about our adventures across the country. He was so thrilled that I was making his rec center one of my stops that he waived the normal rental fee for the room.

He also informed me that the class started at 7, rather than 6 as I had thought. So instead of being an hour early, I was two hours early. I decided at that point to take River on a little trip to the local grocery store since I was hungry and had so much time before class.

I tied him to a table outside the store as I went in to shop. He was fine.

Later, I taught Goldfinger to a room of shimmering artists. The reception, as usual, was very hot and the routine went over well. We all had a good time, and I hope to return to the area the next time I’m in the region.

The third gig I had in New York was a return to the place where I taught for many years when I lived in Manhattan. I had put the word out to my old group, which was usually a strong ten to fifteen people, but only two showed up. Combined with two new students who had heard about my arrival, we were five altogether. Not the strongest showing, and a slight net profit of $5. My weakest class to date.  I may have to consider whether it makes sense to produce my own classes in New York anymore. Maybe I’ve been away too long.

Other than those three gigs, my time in New York was a time of rest and relaxation. I have a few old clients who I see every time I’m in the city, but with almost a full week in town, I was able to see all of them without any problem.

The rest of the time I spent working with River on his strong protective territorial behavior. Not being used to apartment living, he would bark any time he heard someone walking by in the hallway. And really let loose when someone knocked, rang or entered the door to my friend’s apartment.

By posting the dilemma as a question in a dog training group I belong to, I was steered toward a solution that seemed to be effective. The barking could be explained as River feeling that it is up to him to decide whether or not a strange sound is a threat. But I could take charge of that by responding to his first bark. When he let one loose, I’d say “Thanks. Want to go check it out?” And I’d walk him to the front door (the source of the noise). He hung behind but followed me to the door. I pretended to be listening intently and then after a few seconds I’d visibly relax my body and say, “oh. that’s nothing. It’s ok.” which would cause him to visibly relax, and we’d both walk back to the living room. This seemed to be exactly what he needed. It didn’t prevent him from sounding that first alert, but it did serve to limit him to just the one BARK, which eventually softening into a slight HUFF and then an expectant stare as if saying “let’s go check that out.”

There were lots of sounds in that apartment, and we made the trip to the door many times, but I was happy to be able to offer him a bit of peace of mind.

My partner, Zeke, took some time off work and flew from Seattle to New York to spend our down time with us. It was great to see him and River was excited to be reunited, however briefly.  It seemed like the four or five days were over in a flash, and the next thing I knew, we were packing up the car again and headed to our next destination.

After this week break, we’re back on tour. Next stop, Vermont.


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