Thursday, January 19, 2006

Day 182

The day started out with my sitting at the computer still wearing my sweat suit and slippers. This is normal early morning attire for me. One of the dogs bumped the back of my chair pretty hard and I turned to see what was going on. What I saw was one of my shoes on the floor and a second shoe on its way through the door. Sanity shyly meet my eye and sort of did her "did I get it right?" body curl.

Never one to pass up a chance at a training gift, I told her "good girl, now bring it along" got up and headed for the bedroom. She droped the shoe she was carrying and went back for the first shoe, gots confused and drops it, only to go back to the second shoe. I helped by pointing to the second shoe and telling her to "fetch". She did and then she followed me into the bedroom. Once there I sat on the bench at the end of the bed, held out my hand and said "give". She gave me the shoe in her mouth and then looked at me with a huge question on her face.

"Yes, Sanity, you are on the right track. Fetch the other shoe." She started out the door and then stalled. Still unclear as to what she should do next, so I got up and went to the doorway and told her to "fetch the shoe". Slow, unsure steps carried her to the shoe, which she picked up and brought back to the bedroom and my waiting hand. Great! Might as well heed what she is telling me and get dressed. So I laid out my clothes for the day and of course, just happen to drop both socks. She was watching very closely. Next I sat on the bench and told her to fetch the sock, all the while using one hand to signal what I wanted. She fetched it, sat and let me take it when I say "give". I put that sock on while she watched. She sniffed my foot, stepped back and again I got that quizzical look.

"Fetch me the other sock." This time I didn't bother with the hand signal. There was a pause, with her eyes shifting back and forth between the two socks. One on the floor and the other on my foot; and then she did indeed fetch me the sock on the floor. Once more she watched very carefully while I put on the second sock. She sniffed my foot and apparently satisfied stepped back to continue watching.

Next came the shoes. I had to give some direction with my hand to point her to the right location. The shoes were on the floor pretty much behind me. One fetch command and I got first one shoe and then the second shoe. She actually stood watching me put on the first shoe, all the while holding the second shoe in her mouth. I am totally psyched by this abrupt change in her behavior and attitude.

Dressed and with the bedroom tidied up, I headed downstairs to let the boarders out. This is when Wrap has always helped out, by collecting all the dirty food pans and taking them upstairs to the kitchen. This is a job that will one day be Sanity's. Right now, all the necessary steps are totally beyond her. However, for the first time a fetch command actually caused her to try and pick up a pan.

Too funny. She picked it up by the side that was closest to her and then couldn't see where she was going and dropped it. Second command to fetch got similar results in that this time she was holding it straight out in front of her and didn't dare move because when she did move she was unable to maintain her grip. Ok, so I helped her put the pan in her mouth the right way. The best part was that she had no trouble carrying that pan upstairs and almost all the way to the kitchen, before it defeated her and she dropped it. That pan had hardly hit the floor when Wrap swooped in a collected it.

In the kitchen, I managed to "drop" or "accidentally" bump a pill bottle, pen, leash, plastic bowl and plastic spoon. The pen rolled under the island in the middle of the kitchen. Sanity actually used her paw to knock it out so she could retrieve it for me. I am walking on cloud 9, because I sense the retrieve battle is over and she now sees retrieving as useful work. YEAH!!!!! On to scent work and more on directional retrieving. Will be adding jumping to the mix as well. Now, except for the blasted stand, the training will be interesting for both of us.

Even though the sun did finally come out yesterday, it really wasn't enough to suit Sanity. That, plus the damp, cold, gray of today just seemed to really add more fuel to the normal buzz-bomb outdoors creature she morphs into when the door is opened in the morning. She started by chasing Lilly around the yard until Lilly dropped in her tracks and simply refused to budge. I made her practice her distance sit. Next she moved on to Rosie and chased her around one tree after another until Rosie went and "hid" on the porch. This caused her to go off looking.

She set her sights on Marley and the rope tug toy he was carrying around. For the next 15 minutes or so she and Marley tugged. Back and forth across the yard, war noises, head shaking, pulling first one way and then another. Every so often I would insist on a remote sit. The real capper was when she sat and continued to hang onto the rope tug. Finally, Marley gave up and let her have the rope. Only that really wasn't exactly what she wanted, so she dropped the rope and took off after Sage. Sage ran. Sanity gave chase. Every time Sage would slow down Sanity would grab the tip of her tail and give it a pinch. Sage would squeak. I would make Sanity do a remote sit and then release her. The chase would be on again. Finally Sage dove under the wheelbarrow and refused to come out to play anymore.

Looking around for her next victim/oops! I mean playmate, Sanity spotted Trevor. He is always good for some fun. First you chase him until he drops the ball he likes to carry around. Then you grab the ball and run with it, making sure to stay just far enough ahead so he can't quite catch you. Oh, and when he gives up you drop the ball and try to get around behind him, the better to pinch his butt. Finally, Trevor hid out in one of the dog houses. Sammie, is that Sammie?

Oh yes, Sammie had been wandering around the yard all this time not bothering or being bothered. Sanity began to stalk poor Sammie. Once Sammie realized what was stalking her she made a tearing beeline for her tree. Up the tree she shot, leaving Sanity at the bottom, carefully studying just how she did that. Why do I suspect I am going to look at that tree one day soon to see a Doberman perched 10 feet off the ground?

Group class
It was Diane's turn to teach the Novice class last night so Sanity got to do group stays. (She broke her sit/stay.) Then while the rest of the class worked on heeling, she and I worked on the stand. Well that is, we worked on it until the ecollar went dead. I really must start putting the collar and transmitter in their chargers at night instead of waiting, cause the darn thing seems to have a habit of running out of "juice" at most inconvenient times. My placing the collar around Sanity's waist sure did raise a whole lot of questions. I know exactly what I will be teaching for a portion of the next Novice class I am scheduled to teach. Meanwhile, her response to the stand command is getting better at a rapid rate and neither of us is becoming annoyed with the other and I am not breaking my back with having to lean over constantly.


  1. Anonymous5:24 PM

    I read your blog every day. I must say that you are one heck of a dog trainer. How did you ever get such a work ethic to work through all the bumps in the training process with unfailing dedication?

  2. When I was barely out of my teens a person whom I greatly admired told me that to succeed all I had to do was to "carry a dream in my heart and make it a wonderful reality." I started trying to follow those instructions more than 40 years ago and I am still trying to follow them.

    Or as I tell my students, how can you get mad when you know you are going to win? One thing I think this blog is showing is that the dog's behavior always gets much worse just before it gets really better.

    Then again, my last husband said I was the single most stubborn human beings he had ever met, so maybe that is the real answer. Besides, I really do like what I do. And thanks for the pat on the head, it sure feels good.