Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Day 132

Wednesday. I didn't write a single note on what happened this day. Now here I sit trying desperately hard to remember. All I remember is a work session in the yard that was mixed with a lesson for Rosie and her owner with Sanity helping to set the tone and Jersey trying super hard to take Sanity's place. It was rather humbling for me as I recall. Perhaps that is why I am having a hard time remembering.

Dog training. Training a dog to do a specific thing that you want and maybe the dog doesn't want or at least has little to no interest in doing on its own. It has always seemed to be so easy. I actually don't ever remember a time when I couldn't do it. Well actually, I started out learning this training stuff by training a cat, and then some goldfish and then another cat. I actually did manage to get the first cat to walk on a leash, come when called, use the toilet (I hate litterboxes) and turn on the faucet in the bathroom sink for fresh water. The toilet trick got me in trouble because my brothers would forget to put the seat down or my mother would close the lid. Either way the toilet would become unavailable to my cat and she would then default to the bathtub and do her best to hit the drain hole. The water turn on thing got me in big trouble with my father, since in one house it ran the well dry and in the next house it ran the water bill through the roof. Oops.

Then came the goldfish. I was feeding them this wafer type fish food and noticed they would all swim to the surface when my hand started to put the food in the bowl. So I started holding the food a little bit above the level of the water. It wasn't long before I had two of the three fish jumping up to grab the food. I just keep on working with them and before the summer was over I had the two jumping out of the water and over a pencil and back into the water on the other side. Then I would feed them. One of my brothers decided he would do the same thing when I wasn't around and jumped the two fish out of the bowl, on to the floor where he proceeded to leave them to die. A week later the city came through spraying DDT like they used to do in the summer and bang, the third fish was dead. So much for my stint as a marine trainer. I went back to cats, cause that was all that was available at the time.

The next cat never did learn to use the toilet. I started to early and she fell in, pulling the lid shut as she fell. She never would have anything to do with toilets after that. I did get her to turn on the water in the sink and that is when I found out just how bad an idea that is. See, by then I was paying my own water bill, ouch. Best of all I taught her to retrieve a sock filled with crumpled up cigarette packages. All this time what I really wanted was a dog.

So I say to this student, its easy. You just break it down into small pieces. Train all the small pieces and then start putting the pieces together to get what you want. The real trouble is that most people can't see the big piece much less all the little pieces that come together to make that big piece. So after working on come and sit and saying, "never mind heel or stay, because you still don't have come or sit"; I realized we needed to go in the house for a lesson in seeing. And so we did.

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