Monday, February 27, 2006

Day 221

Monday morning and we are up, dressed and outside by 5:45 a.m. That included all of us. Amy who insisted it was warmer than last night, me who insisted it is colder than last night and all the dogs. Wrap and Sanity took off a top speed to do a full parameter fence check leaving the rest of us to mill around. Tyler figured since he couldn't keep up with the Dobes he would just worry Desi and poor Desi didn't know where to turn. After a time we all went back inside to warm up and the day officially began.

In keeping with a promise made as a response to a post about yesterday's blog I am going to add a whole bunch of stuff that up to this point I had been leaving out. Specifically all the challenges going on between Sanity and this very determined person.

I don't even remember why now, but for some reason I have gotten into the habit of feeding Sanity a small morning meal in a paper bowl rather than one of the normal stainless steel pans. Goodness knows, there is really no reason for her to not be able to retrieve that bowl. In fact, she has no problem picking it up and carrying it around, tossing it in the air, stomping on it, ripping and tearing it, chasing the resulting pieces. She just hates having to retrieve it. Mind you in the beginning she was super proud of her ability to retrieve it and bring it to the kitchen.

Most mornings are like this one. I tell her to fetch the bowl. She glares at me with that sideways look and grudgingly picks up the bowl. I head for the kitchen with her lagging along behind me. In the kitchen I am faced with repeating fetch or telling her to come. Either way I will get her around the island and in front of me. Now she is on the little rug that is there just so the dogs can sit and do a delivery to hand without their butts slipping on the floor. She stands and refuses to look at me.

I give a sit command. She spits out the bowl and sits. I tell her to fetch. She gets up from the sit and fetches. She then won't sit until I tell her to or until I correct her at which point she will sit as she spits out the bowl. I correct her. She fetches the bowl again and this time sits only to hang her head and try to tuck in her chin. Most times I don't have a leash handy so I grab the dishtowel and with a quick twist end up with a usable tool. This gets gently hooked under her chin and she has no choice but to lift her head. We hold the position until she finally makes eye contact. At that point I say give and take the bowl from her. Battle won by me and the tension goes out of the air. She will now do what she is supposed to do or what I tell her to do for about two hours. This gal is not for the faint of heart.

Watched Callie (Newfie) working articles this morning during the lesson I can see she is just about to the challenge stage. After she did two correct ones with only a single mistake, Paul wanted to do pretty much what I had done on Saturday. I warned him of the problems he was going to run into. Sure enough it was another 30 minutes before we got another correct find. In between those two finds, Callie sat, she refused to go out, she stood and stared at the ceiling, she glared at me, she laid down on both articles, she stood on the correct article. Finally she went out when told, sniffed and picked the correct article and brought it back. It seems to me that every dog/owner team has to go through this at least once.

We moved on to Sanity. She went right out, sniffed picked up the correct article and then tossed it in the air and pounced on it as it was landing. Of course I moved in and corrected. I just wish my body would agree to move as fast as my mind tells it to cause that way the toss and pounce would not have had the time to happen. Ah well.

Having been corrected for her gaming, she then tried to go to Paul on the next send. That didn't work. The next time she grabbed the first one she came to and got corrected because it was the wrong one. Then we had a success. Next time I sent her she went to the correct article and using one paw knocked it across the room like a hockey puck. And so it went for the next three sends. Finally a correct find and retrieve. In each and every single case, the correct retrieves were totally correct including a straight sit front and her head up, eyes meeting mine with a good steady hold and give. Every single incorrect retrieve, even when corrected to become correct ended with the head down, chin tucked and a disinclination to want to put it in my hand.

She then turned around and gave me a wonderful fast, straight, nice front, good sit, strong and steady hold retrieve on the flat with her dumbbell. And followed that by insisting she had never, ever seen my cane before in her entire life.

I went out to take care of some things in the yard in the afternoon. The thing I worry about the most happened. My fault, it was totally my fault. I figured that I could get away without my cane. Bad. One of the dogs knocked me down. Not on purpose, shoot I very much doubt that dog even realized what had happened. Now when something like that does happen it is my dog's job to help me back up. Wrap was in the house so there was no way she was going to be showing up to chase away all the other dogs and help me. The burden fell to Sanity.

Sanity did come a'running. But once there she began to dance around and dither. I call her. She came up, licked my face and danced back. I call her again and this time told her to stand.

Oops! She is not doing stands right now according to her. It is the exercise where she will try to do a down. Okay, so a forward command, some collar guidance and another stand command got her to the right location and facing in the right direction. But she was in a down again. I sort of poked her in the belly with a finger and said stand once again. She stood. I started to position my hands and sure enough she started to go down again. Only this time, I tell her, "Ok, if you want to be a foot stool that's fine with me. You are still tall enough for me to use."

She was half way between a stand and a down and she just froze like a statue. It was almost as if a switch had been thrown in her brain. Her eyes got really big and she carefully turned her head just enough to watch. I glanced at her and sure enough her brow was full of furrows; a sure sign she is thinking.

Once I was on my feet she stayed close enough for me to use her for balance and slowly walked with me back to the house. Sixty seconds after I made it into the house she was back out in the yard chasing and teasing Sage. It's times like this when I would love to really know what is going on in that amazing brain of hers.

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