Monday, May 24, 2010

Teaching old dogs new tricks

Or how about just getting them to unlearn old habits?

Clairee is retired, but no one seemed to tell her. 5 weeks ago, the obedience bag came out, leashes, collars and bait bags packed. Clairee—at the door, waiting to go out to the truck. How in the world do you say no to this?

Week 2-get collars, wrangle Moose, Lace, Merlot and hum, there’s a rough collie sitting in the tahoe. How did that get there? Oh well, once again, can’t say no.

I teach about 40 kids obedience, agility, and showmanship on Tuesday nights for our county 4-H dog program. Many of the kids are one dog families and 2-3 siblings must share the dog. Not a problem, dog gets a lot of attention, lots of work, but sometimes it’s the youngest member of the family that gets a little left out, you know, the left overs kid. Quincy is the one this year. She’s adorable and has been coming to class with her siblings for a few years, but she’s now just old enough to participate herself.

So Quincy comes up to me and very coy and polite asks, do you have a dog I can borrow? My usual rule of thumb is that kids that can’t bring their dog-in heat, injury or sick, must attend to make the class count and I usually have one or two extra dogs with me each night. Of course I know she’s hinting at Clairee who is overjoyed to be able to come, even if it meant doing the worlds longest down stay in the middle of chaos. So each night for the last 5 weeks, Quincy comes over, asks politely and off she goes with Clairee for some quality time. Each night at the end of class, she comes over and hands me the “keys” and says thank you. Clairee is tired but a very happy dog. Again, how can you say no to a happy dog?

Last week was no different other then I needed to remember to grab the extra chute, more bait, water bottles and hurry out to the building to repair the old chute(new Velcro). Clairee was attached at my hip. She kept staring at the leash rack. Okay, here’s your collar-how does a 10 almost 11 yr old dog bounce like that? I go change and hear the most pitiful whine-an Ace sounding whine. Come out of the bedroom to trip over Clairee and Alec is laughing his head off. That whine-was an impatient collie who was ready to go to class… NOW!

Once again, we all pile in the truck. Get up there and the circus is in town-literally, holding a small rinky dink circus at the fair grounds. Wee haa. Chute repaired, dogs ready to rock. Quincy comes in, coy as ever and I just point in Clairee’s direction. It’s actually neat to see the old dog teach the young kid new tricks.

Later gators....


Sherilyn said...

And Clairee is loving every minute of her kid attention. :) Bless her heart!!

Dawn said...

Claire is such a good girl. Its great that she is so willing to help the kids.