Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Day 292

Sanity and I are back to team teaching and it is now starting to feel the way I want it to feel. I had a week 2 to teach and that covers the beginning of the sit and an introduction to the more formal heel command. More formal than just stepping off on the left foot and going or asking the dog to sort of "come along" or "let's go".

Anyway she started out by acting as the loose dog in the park. Wandering around the yard, sometimes strolling past the student and student's dog and never making eye contact with the dog in training. She really is learning and I am so pleased with how she handled this borderline dog aggressive dog I could just bust. She would move in ever so smoothly and then slide away to vanish from the scene. Her timing was such that the problem dog would become aware of her, start to do a focused stare and then poof! like a puff of smoke she had silently moved to an out of sight position. Totally cool to watch and did cause me a few moments of distraction when I started to slip into a trance just watching her work. After I pointed out what was going on, even my student became somewhat engrossed in the interplay between the two dogs.

We worked on sit. I needed Sanity to help me demonstrate some of the finer points and all I had to do was say, "Sanity, I need you." I was then able to go on with my teaching and sure enough in just a few seconds there she was, standing in heel position, looking up expectantly. We demonstrated hand motions on the leash, how to hold the ecollar transmitter and how, why, and when to touch with a gentle touch and a soft voice. Once the demonstration was over, I simply thanked Sanity and told her I didn't need her for a while. She wagged her tail and took off across the yard to chase a trespassing squirrel away. Meanwhile we continued to work on the sit.

A bit later I needed to demonstrate just where the random sit was heading, if and only if the student really did her homework. "Sanity, come." I called out the come command in a fairly loud voice since I had no idea where she was and I pointed this fact out to my student. It was maybe 15 seconds or so before either of us saw her.

She came tearing around the end of the kennels going full bore, in one of those ground eating gallops that takes all four feet off the ground every fourth beat. Man, she was some kind of traveling and it was beautiful to watch except...

If she continued at that speed and didn't slow down I was about to be toast. When she was about 75 feet from us I called out, "Sanity, sit" and at the same time tapped the momentary button one single time. Miss Sanity literally plowed a deep furrow in the soft ground as she hit the breaks and slapped her butt into a sit. How I wish there had been someone there handling the camcorder to get it on a DVD.

I glanced over at my student and she was just standing there with her mouth hanging open and her eyes round as saucers. "Is there another way of calling so they don't come so fast?"

"Not for my dogs. A fast recall means they don't take time to smell the flowers, chase a bunny or get into trouble. Besides which, as you can see it is possible to put the brakes on when you need to." And all this time Sanity is still sitting out there. She is sitting as straight and tall as she can possibly stretch herself, her ears point straight to the sky and the wonderful, proud look on her face. "Sanity, come", and in she trotted as proud as you please. Gave me a nice sit front, a good finish and then when I told her "Okay" she flew up in the air and planted a kiss on my cheek before buzzing the student's dog and vanishing again.

That buzzing cause the student's dog to explode into a frenzy of gnashing teeth, snarls and growls. They were quickly brought under control by the simple expediency of giving a sit command and then enforcing it. Of course, this also gave the owner a chance to work on the necessary handling skills and actually learn what to do when a loose dog in the park does the same sort of thing. Damn, she is shaping up to be something the stuff of dreams are made from.

Later, we worked on finding a hidden leather article. She is starting to figure out that the nose knows more than the eyes in some cases.

Tyler has begun to have the same sort of recall as Sanity. The only problem right now is he still needs way more practice on that sit command. I am having a small amount of trouble getting him to see the negative space in the same way he sees the place board. I saw the same thing in Sanity and have sort of concluded that it has to do with their vision and how they use it.

Right now I have a big push on to teach him went and were jumping up is an acceptable thing for him to do. That is one hard nut to crack open. I know he will get it, it's just a matter of time.

And their drive Margot mad continues. Tyler hauling the inside toys outside and leaving them scattered all over the yard and Sanity hauling all the outside toys inside and dumping them in the middle of the living room. I would like to get mad at them and hard as I try I continue to fail.

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