Saturday, March 27, 2010

New frontiers

While the early Spring weather is teasing us into dreaming about outdoor training sessions and the ability to sport fewer layers, it also brings about another round of birthdays for the boyz, and a reminder that time is precious, and needs to be used wisely in the life cycle of canine training.

We're forging ahead with our quest for sychronistic communication in the agility ring, and also in the sport of Rally. The time has also come to revisit our love of obedience. We've enlisted a masterful guide for this journey who is proficient at reading the boyz. Mick's a "Backyard Champion" and can perform all the required exercises up to utility... He just can't find me in a ring located anywhere else ;-). Bryce is a blank slate, and although he has his RN, has no formal training in obedience at all (so no bad habits either ;-).

Mick's a funny one... He never misses a chance to let me know that I'll never really know him completely :-). Even at almost 8 yrs old, he still leaves me with my jaw hanging some days. Like today. Obedience assignment for this week is to take attention training on the road. No sweat, we're out all day today. Sooo... we get to the building center and I pop open the crate and invite Mick out to join me. The goal is to get even a nanosecond of attention in a new environment. OK, so it took 5 minutes, but we actually even got in a few steps of heeling. Success! But wait... I forgot about the uncanny ability that beardies have of drawing a crowd in a public place... I REALLY didn't expect to push him with asking for attention while ignoring other people and big scary trucks in the same session, but it happened. Then a very strange thing happened... As soon as Very Nice Lady came up to say hello, those wandering fawn eyes became glued to mine and I felt like I had another appendage attached to my left leg! Very Nice Lady was duly impressed with the "well trained boy" and I scratched my head and tried to process what just happened :-).

Bryce also sent me an interesting message vis a vis our new journey... Turns out he's the model of focus and patience when we're AWAY from home, but in the safety and privacy of his domain, he bounces around like a flea with approximately the same attention span for heel position?! What the??? In the parking lot, at the agility training center and at the butcher shop, I not only got attention, but actual heeling... Couldn't shake him. We floated across the parking lot in joyful unison...In the basement at home after dinner, it was as though I was asking for something completely unreasonable when I asked for a sit at heel postion, let alone a step INTO heel position?! I could feel his frustration levels rise so we cut it off and went searching for that nanosecond. After a few minutes, we got it, and once we got past the hissy fit about paying attention to ME for a minute, he glided into our companionable dance.

The communication was more familiar for everyone during our agiliy training session where it was inspiring to see how well we're beginning to read one another. Starting (back?) into something new has it's benefits :-).

I should catch up on our quest to learn a trick a week that we did all winter, and I our new adventures with the scooter! Stay tuned....