Bud’s turn at training Blue

I was rushing through tonight’s feeding, running late, so handed Bud a food bowl for Blue and he engaged in a little “2-Minute” training with the teacup tire. A regulation tire in most venues is a bulky, sometimes enormous obstacle. In TDAA the frame is diminutive as is the tire itself. Whether one is easier or more difficult than the other is best left to the animal communicators and pet psychics.

I heard a bit of clanging while they worked and asked, later, what that was all about. “The piece of carpeting under the tire kept sliding when Blue landed and turned to come back,” Bud said. So we took a no-slip rug mat and installed it under the piece of carpeting to make the whole set-up safer.

Anytime we’re training a dog in agility, obedience, whatever, it is solely our responsibility to ensure our dogs’ safety. When I was first beginning to train dogs I had a young, non-confident golden mix in intermediate obedience with the local AKC club. Because it wasn’t basic class we had a more advanced instructor. This lady, though a pleasant-enough person in her own right, was a totally negative control freak when it came to dog training.

Pops on choke chains, hanging dogs on choke chains, pops on prong collars, hanging dogs on prong collars, smacking, glaring, all were in her toolbox. More than anyone else, she taught me what I did NOT want to look like when training dogs.

One night we were working on heeling and, for once, my dog was prancing and having a good time. He even went so far as to put his mouth on the leash. I saw it as a sign he was getting more confident, quickly got his mouth off the leash, and was smiling at him as she walked up and said, “would you like to know what I do when my dog mouths the leash?” and proceeded to smack him on both sides of his face with the flat of her hands.

The dog was never the same. Never made the mistake of enjoying obedience class, that’s for sure. And, unfortunately, he was a dog I was “puppy raising” for Canine Companions for Independence (they refer to these dogs as $10,000 investments). He was booted out of the CCI program at 20 months for lack of confidence and dislike of strangers. Go figure.

I drove home from class that night, tears streaming down my cheeks, cursing at that “authority figure” for having behaved so badly to my dog. I’ll never forget that day and never forgive that behavior. I determined, before I ever reached home, that NO ONE would every discipline my dog ever again. That my sole responsibility, when out with my dogs, was to control their behavior and reward them for acting nicely — and to protect them from shrews like that instructor.

This has been a disturbing day on many fronts. After 2 years living here on the old Martin family cabin property, my brothers and sisters are still telling me that we cheated them, cheated my Dad, stole the property, didn’t consider them or reach a consensus regarding the purchase of family property from my parents. I’ve heard this happens with most families where one child manages to purchase the homestead from Mom and Dad.

I know this is a common ailment when elderly parents sell to one child but, for God’s sake, each of my siblings got a fourth of the proceeds, in cash, at the time of the sale. And we got a discount. I’ve sworn off further discussion so many times, and it keeps coming back and smacking me in the face. I’m so done with all of it and all of them, frankly. It surely has left me with a bruised inner child, one I’m determined to cast out.

One of these days, since this IS my personal journal, I may write descriptions of the siblings in question. They’re an interesting (nearly freaky?) litter of misfits. Makes me wonder how I dodged that bullet and ended up so completely normal.  hmmmm

I’ve got a fired-up volunteer on my SMART team (Shelter Matchmaking And Rehab Training). She’s asking all her friends to contribute to purchase sleeping hammocks for all the big dogs in the kennel runs — to keep them up off the concrete floor. The kennels all had these hammocks a year or so ago but they’ve broken up, been chewed up, and are in a general state of disrepair.

As an owner of 9 dogs I know that the dogs don’t really care if their hammock has just 2 legs, or has a big hole chewed in one corner. But she wants to do this and I’m all for it!

Tomorrow is the board meeting for HSOV, so I’m writing up a brief report as volunteer coordinator. There are a few things going very well — the volunteer station is getting a lot of use, I’ve got 4 pages of sign-in / sign-out information, everyone seems to be sanitizing their hands and considering animal health when they move from room-to-room, and we’re working on 2-3 projects with students from nearby Marietta College.

The college has a scholarship program where students have to (among other projects) do a number of hours a week of volunteer work with local organizations. Since many of them left pets at home we’ve got a bunch of college kids wanting to help at the shelter. And, just this spring, there’s a Public Relations class where 1-2 teams are going to be preparing PR materials for the shelter. I’m really excited to see how these kids perceive the shelter’s needs, and how they approach the education projects I’ve proposed.

I heard from Erica Behnke today regarding the little “pre-camp-camp” she’s planning this May. Erica and a bunch of her friends, having been rounded up by Brenda Gilday into a tight-knit group, are coming for a private camp in mid-May this year. Erica, Brenda, and their friend Alice are going to come 3 days early for some private lessons and a little R&R in a cottage. They’re a fine group of supporters (and readers of our blogs), so this is my shout-out to Erica et al — HEY Y’ALL !!

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One Response to “Bud’s turn at training Blue”

  1. Erica Says:

    HEY back at’cha, Marsha!

    I can totally relate, unfortunately, to your experience with heavy-handed “experts” and the tragic outcomes. Due to my mom’s illness many years ago, I had to change from going to classes at my wonderful club in Greenville OH to a “professional” trainer with classes closer to home – the 1.5 hours on the road was too long a drive to be away every week. My new trainer was typical for the time trainer, with choker pop corrections, prong collars and the like. My baby dog was a bright-eyed 6 month old Brittany, not as outgoing as her brother was at that age but not a shrinking violet my any means. She did ok, not great in class -the love of obedience really wasn’t there, but the day that the trainer grabbed the leash from my hand and hung her off the ground was the last day I could get her to walk on rubber matting without cowering in fear. We went to one more session – because of course the expert must be right, then reason kicked in and we never went back. Maggie never did obedience work again, even back in Greenville. She was so upset she’d get sick when she’d get out of the car and realize where we were heading. She’d sit and wait for Jinks and I to finish our work, then we’d head back home to safety.

    My first and very soft rescue boy took his beginner’s obedience class and I guess that’s why we like agility now. Only three years ago and still the experts exist with their ham-fisted ways. We were doing a down for the first time, and I guess ours wasn’t quite fast enough, but nothing a hard stomp by the expert onto a tight leash wouldn’t cure. He downed in a hurry, all right. Onto his side, onto his back, eyes pleading for me to save him. I was smarter that time – we left class immediately and never went back to that class. A few months later we started agility to try to find something fun to boost his crushed confidence, and he loves it though stays at the start and down on the table are still issues for him. I describe his look as autistic , when you can see the life drain right out of his eyes and watch it be replaced by a glassy vacant stare. We’re working through it, with a combination of Bud’s Happy Table and some very positive training with Diane Carr and MaryAnn Chappelear – two of the kindest trainers I’ve had the pleasure to work with.

    With your shelter work, please tell your adopters that all experts aren’t. Especially for the poor re-runs already confused at their new life, positive training methods have to be used or more dogs will end up like your Golden and my Britts.

    Tress and I are looking forward to working with you in May!

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