Sunday, September 16, 2007

Shelburne Museum goes to the dogs...

After last weekend's diaster at Carroll County I wasn't looking forward to obedience demos at the annual "Shelburne Museum goes to the Dogs" event. I hadn't planned on participating but got roped into it as part of BOTC public education. Anyway, picture 3000+ dogs (of all shapes, sizes and temperments) and their owners - pet owners. A couple of observations - pet people are out of their minds! No, your dog can't "say hi" to my dog - I don't care "how friendly" you say he is, his body posture is telling me otherwise. Yes, my dog does walk nicely on a leash, yes he does sit when I stop - no, he didn't come that way he's got hours and hours and hours (and months and years) of training under his belt. How long would it take me to get my dog to do that?Honestly? There's not enough time left in the universe - seriously, you put a prong collar on your friend and yank him around - that's why you can "only walk him on the prong". Or my favorite - if he's not on the prong he's aggressive....swell.

Only one guy really flipped me out - walking a GSD (yeah my favorite) on a 20' flexi - dog is 20' in front of him and comes barreling at me (and Teller), I body block his dog from getting to Teller with my knee up (which keeps the dog the maximum distance from my body and dog) then I hear the words that make me cringe "he only wants to say hi" - Well he can say hi to someone else you idiot...I didn't say it of course - the dirty look and continued body blocking should have been his hint...hey dude "here's your sign".

Anyway, I learned two things - the first is that Murphy is an enigma, we must have covered 10 miles wandering around the grounds being social, doing heelwork, just getting him out and about (I did another 5 with Teller and man are my hooves sore tonight!). Today, with all of the dogs and all of the people Murphy wasn't stressed in the least. Walking around the grounds like he does it every day - no stress. No stress in the demos either.....yeah, I'm ready to kill him...He's either on or off and he was so damn on today. He worked three open routines and two rally demos. The third obedience demo he was DONE, but sucked it up when I broke out some turkey bacon (smoke flavoring added).

The second thing I learned is to not take Teller for granted. Teller is so cool in so many ways - I forget sometimes that he's a baby and still learning. I have to keep remembering that. Don't rush things, let him be who he is and everything else is going to fall into place with him. That's the kind of dog that he is....He does these things that are so awesome sometimes - occaisionally doing things correctly that I haven't taught him - he learned a right finish while I was warming him up for the rally demo - in 4 reps he went from a lure, to an exaggerated hand movement with a "catch me" cookie, to just a hand motion. We've worked formal heelwork maybe 6 times and he's really getting it - but - and I should know and expect this - he can't put it all together yet for any length of time. I had been thinking about entering him in a rally trial at BOTC in November - this demo day was really helpful in helping me make that decision. He's going to be an awesome worker - he already is - what is the point in rushing anything with him. He can come to the show, he can do heelwork and rally moves outside the ring - but he doesn't have to go in the ring now - there's plenty of time for that when he's really really really solid and ready. I want him to be my three for three dog not just my "we qualified" dog. No pictures of Teller today...Next time I promise.

The group stay from today's demo - Left to Right: Sophie (poodle), Minna (poodle), Taris (golden), Queenie (lab), Rah (sheltie), Higgins (golden) and Murphy (swamp collie). Click for the full size image.

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