Wednesday, May 21, 2014


Most of you know that on Tuesday nights throughout the spring and early summer, I am camped out at the Fair Grounds teaching 4-H dog obedience.   It's always an adventure.  Lots of kids that keep coming back to learn more year after year and then the new ones.   Unfortunately, this year has been the year of drop outs.   Shame.  Most the kids were just starting to get it, but we also have a lot of older dogs with no training.  For a 4th or 5th grader that's totally a challenge that sometimes just doesn't work.  Those dogs lack the basic fundamentals of training-never had a collar on, always a harness.  Never interacted with other dogs, never got the chance to be more of a dog and less of an object.   

Last night the adventure began at week 5.  1/2 way through the classes and as typical we start with long sits and downs.  Oh boy, we've got some great dogs, some great students, but no practicing.  Hoping this too shall pass but anyone reading this.....let's see some practicing!!!   I usually give my - I know who's working their dog and who's not-speech at this juncture.    Mother Nature said NOPE.

Left work with thunderstorm warnings for, well, my house and the fair grounds.  Radar looked like it would easily pass and the closer we got to home, yes the darker it got.  But no rain.  I started to get those calls--are we still having class.  Yes we are having class.   

Muff and I loaded up-Mal, Kevin, Moose, Red and Cy.  Trekked up to the grounds, via alternative route.  Yet another oddity of the night, repairs to the RR crossing at the entrance to the grounds meant we had to go through the ag service lot.  Few kids trickled in.  We could tell it had rained up there, but looked like the worst was behind us, so to speak.

Typical luck, it started back building.  It rained.  It poured.  It blew.  It hailed.  Not a lot of thunder and lightening, yet.   It's a big metal building.  Small sized indoor horse arena.  Can you guess that once it really started coming down, I couldn't even hear myself think?  What I can say is barring one dog and student, the rest of canine crew was great.  The kids just kept working and playing!

We did a mock rally course in order to work on engaging our dogs and heeling...and sitting.  Needs a little work.  The agility kids played a little FAST agility type activity, with all the contacts having point values and a limited time to get as many points as possible.  They had a blast!  And it was thundering and lightening by that point. 

About an hour into the class, we opted to wait till this cell passed and send everyone home.  Good plan, as you can tell by these photos...

Yes siree, we made it home, let everyone run for like two nano seconds, then it started blowing and raining.   I sat down and watched the end of DWTS.   

But the most interesting thing of the night, during all the mess, Mal seriously did a long down in the middle of the rally course, middle of the building and even when tempted by Jackie, didn't move!  I swear it was like an hour down stay.  I talked to a couple parents while I was pulling the rally cards about that, when I heard the comment-look at her dogs, so well behaved.  Sorry, my dogs are no angels.  Far from it.   But I do have a right to expect them to behave in public and to do as I ask in many situations.  Such as teaching class.  I have my dog there to demonstrate some techniques to the kids but then when not working, they should sit or down stay right where I put them.  My usual comment is that if they aren't behaving, then they wouldn't be here.   I have expectations and I'm not going to make up an excuse as to why my dog is being a brat.  I'm not into bribing my dog to behaving and constantly have to get on them about it.   I expect in certain situatiosn, certain behaviors.  I train for them and the dogs know, it's what I expect them to do. 

Last night as the storms were rolling in before we even started working, I heard "my dog won't do that because he's scared of storms."  First off, have you even tried?  Second, let's remember about what we transfer to our dogs-our fears, our insecurities.  I said if you don't want to run your dog, don't.  Sit down on the bleachers and watch everyone else.   Or on the other hand, change your attitude, be positive, engage your dog and work through it...if it happens that a loud bolt of lightening catches your dog off guard, then we'll work through it....then.  Not before it even becomes an issue.  Hum, she ran three fun agility runs with her dog and no shut down, no spook, no storm fears.  

Same goes anytime you walk in the ring-conformation, obedience, rally, etc.  If you think something will go wrong, you've already decided it will and typically it does.  Which goes on to say that indeed most errors in the ring are handler errors.  Control your situation, it's either going to go well or bad, your choice.  

And granted at times I know we have things we just can not predict happening.  For example, the person in the next ring is doing drop on recalls while your dog is doing a sit stay.  You've been working on drop on recalls which involve you moving towards your dog.  Just at the moment your dog has disengaged with  you and is watching the other dog in the other ring, you walk towards your dog on the return.  Blocking out the other person giving their dog the drop command, your dog reengages with you and hears "down".  Luck has it the judge is nice, saw what happened and only knocked you 5 pts on the sit stay.  

Yes that was Fred many moons ago on the way to his CD.   Sometimes things just happen.  And sometimes you make them happen without knowing it. 

Fundamentals-it's a hard task, but well worth it.     

Just sayin'......

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