Sunday, June 29, 2008


For reasons best known only to Sanity, she has started to be committed to flying airplane ears. Sometimes I think she just does it cause she knows it drives me crazy and then I remind myself that is just plain silly.

The story is a fairly simply one. A story of mixed signals and bad timing and a serious lack of commitment on my part. Her ears were up, standing and really quite nice. Then, in a fit of boredom on winter day I decided I would teach her to "flap" her ears like they were wings. Okay, all right already. I agree. It wasn't one of my better ideas. Not only a bad idea, but I decided I would do it using treats and clicker. This moved the idea from bad to pretty stupid. I'm just not real good with the C/T stuff, even on the best of days.

Over the period of a couple of weeks I actually managed to get her to raise and lower her ears in a fairly decent imitation of wing flapping. And then I goofed my timing, got rushed, wasn't paying enough attention, who knows what else? The end result was that poor Sanity was left with the idea I actually wanted her to hold her ears flat and straight out from the side of her head. I tried to fix the misunderstanding. I made it worse. So I left it alone for a time and then went back to try and fix it again. Again I made it worse.

I left it alone for a time and then tried again. This time I was trying as I explained to someone else just how the flying ears came to be and in only a few minutes had her flapping her ears like wings. We all thought it was a great fun and funny thing to do. The end result? Flat, flying ears in earnest. I left things alone once more.

But those ears really do bug me. Here I have this lovely Doberman with a truly perfect ear crop and do to a series of unfortunate events they FLY! And so, once again I am embarking on a journey to get those ears up and standing the way they were meant to stand before I took a bottle of stupid pills.

Friday was the first day. Yes, I am also using a clicker because I am determined to fix the original mistake using the tool I started out using. I sat in my recliner and did the click/treat every single time the ears came up. At first, they only came up a tiny bit, I'll take that and I did the C/T thing. Just the sound of the clicker caused her to revert back to airplane ears. I waited. She relaxed and her ears came back up almost all the way. I did the C/T thing. I set my goal for 10 successful clicks which translated into 10 times she put her ears up. By the last time those ears were up all the way and looked just beautiful.

Yesterday, sitting in the same chair and with the same goal we tried again. This time after 5 successes I started ever so softly saying, "Point". The sound of my voice caused the ears to quickly return to airplane. I persisted. Each time the ears came up, I whispered "point" C/T. Well, actually it was C/point/T. And then it was C/T/point and then Point/C/T. My voice stopped causing the ears to drop. Success.

Today, sitting in the same chair, clicker in one hand and treat in the other I had to wait almost a full minute before the ears came up, but they did come up and I managed the C/T. No voice for the first 5 times and then I started the whispered "point" again. Wonder of wonders, them ears stayed up. I had managed 15 reps and ran out of treats. So I called a halt to this game and went off to refill the little treat cup for next time. Sanity followed me. Wrap got up and joined us.

Long time ago, in dog years, Wrap was taught just like all the rest of my Dobes to put her ears up and do what I call the "bright eye" look on the command "ears". Well, she was standing there and as I broke up the treats into smaller pieces, I just glanced at her and said "Wrap, ears". Up came the ears in that special position and while dim, the bright eye was there. I handed her one of the full sized treats. Sanity stood there watching. When she heard "ears" she did the airplane. I totally ignored her. Gave Wrap the "ears" command, got the correct response and handed out that treat. Ignored Sanity and her flying ears. Just before I put everything away I gave it one last go. "Wrap, ears" Bingo! Sanity's ears came all the way up just as fast as Wrap's. A treat for each and no more for this day.

I really am going to fix them ears this time and no more stupid ear flapping tricks.