Monday, June 24, 2013

Helping



I know that not every day can be fun, or special; we cannot train all the time, and some days are just kind of boring.  Nothing much happens, and I am in my crate most of the day.  Today is one of those days, with one break early in the morning.  Even that was not about me, it was about helping one of Angie’s friends with her young dog, a German Shepherd named Harley.

Harley gets very nervous when there is a change in her world.  Even a paper bag blowing across the grass makes her bark.  She barks when somebody rides by on a bicycle, or a car drives into the parking lot.  I can hear her when she and her mom get to the park to meet us.  We have been working with her almost every week, because one of her biggest problems is being around other dogs.  We do not run or play, instead we are both on our leashes.  Harley and I walk past each other, then turn around and walk the other way.  This is so she can learn that other dogs are not a big deal, and that if she watches her mom, good things happen, like she gets these treats that are steak or turkey, the real stuff.
 
I know that it is important to help other dogs.  After all, I learned a lot from being around some great search dogs.  And I stay very calm around Harley.  Sometimes I know she is staring at me, and today I think she really wanted to play.  Maybe one of these days we will be able to get closer to each other, but right now, we keep our distance in the parking lot where we practice.

And right now, there are 3 dogs in crates in MY kitchen because today must be all about helping others.  This has happened once before.  I know they are just visitors and that Angie is taking them to the vet.  She will meet their mom there, and they will go home with her.  Still, it just doesn’t feel right to have them here.

Do I sound selfish?  I think so.  I need to remember that life is not always about me.  It is also about being a good friend to dogs and humans. 

Monday, June 3, 2013

Even Search Dogs have Homework



You probably think that my whole life is about searching, playing on rubble piles, getting to tug with the people I find, and having so much fun at training.  I know it sounds that way, but it is not like that all the time. There is this word, “obedience,” and another word, “control,” that are important. Here is what they mean…I must follow directions, do what I am told, and not just be in business for myself.

Here are some examples of how these words apply to my everyday life.  Instead of running like a crazy dog when it is time to go outside, or load up in the car, I must “heel” or walk on Angie’s left side, slowly.  Even if I am so hungry and really want to get my dinner, if Angie tells me, “Sammie, down, stay,” I have to do that.  She puts my food in the bowl, and I must wait to eat until she tells me, “get it.”

It can be especially hard for me to be under control when we are at Disaster City at the dog playground where there is a tunnel, a teeter-totter, and my all-time favorite, a ladder.  Just the other day, I got in trouble because I was told to walk the teeter-totter.  Well, the ladder was so close, and I love to climb it and walk across the high plank.  I know it was wrong, but I jumped off the teeter-totter and ran to the ladder.  By the time Angie called me back, I was all the way to the top.

She did not let me walk down the ladder.  Instead, she came over to the ladder and lifted me off, and of course, made me heel over to the teeter-totter. I did it this time, and then she let me go climb.  Times like these are very tough for me.  I am the same way about the tunnel.  I want to go through it, and turn around and go back the way I came.  It is almost as much fun as the ladder.

Here is something else we practice at home.  Angie tells me, “down” and “stay” and then she leaves me all by myself, and I cannot move.  Well, I can move my head or tail just a little, but I cannot get up.  And when she comes back, I must wait until she tells me “sit” to move.  Sometimes we practice this with Sprinkles, Sasha, and Snap.  Even if a squirrel runs by, we must stay in a line.

All of this is so I stay safe, and do a good job as Angie’s partner.  Still, it is really hard work!