You know how they say…
…that the reward for a job well-done is another job? Yeah, it’s kind of like that.
I’ve been showing Magnum for the last 18 months, off and on. He free-stacks like nobody’s business, he (most of the time) gaits well on lead, and he’s even gotten so that he’s not completely impossible on the table. We know each other’s body language, and I only need to move a knee a little, or signal with a finger to get him to adjust whichever foot I want. It has been so long now that I forget that there was once a time when he was bouncing around like a super-ball, spazzing on the table, and jumping all over me when I got the bait out.
Last night, I took Whiskey to her first handling class. Unlike my other puppies, she has not gone through a session of puppy kindergarten, for reasons that are probably best left to their own blog post. I have had her out and around town for socialization, and I took her to the Fitchburg shows to walk around a bit and soak up the atmosphere, but I wasn’t really sure what to expect from her when venturing into a class environment, and her at only 4.5 months old.
Whiskey did look a little bit intimidated — for all of about 90 seconds. But by the time I had taken my coat off and filled out the class form, she had come out from hiding behind my legs and was looking around curiously at the other dogs in class: an Aussie, a Tervuren, another Cardigan, and a Chow Chow puppy. Pretty soon, we formed a line and started working on free-stacking and…
You guys… OMG, I love this puppy!! She just gets it, you know? Seriously, she was picking up on body cues and moving herself into position as fast as you could snap your fingers. Five minutes of class and boom! She could hit a reasonable facsimile of a stack. I don’t know how much of it is that she’s just a calmer, more focused puppy than my others have been, and how much is the fact that I’ve got the experience of handling three other dogs of my own plus miscellaneous others along the way, but she just seemed to catch on so, so quickly.
It’s not always easy to look at your own dog’s movement, especially while you’re holding the leash, but I was able to give Whiskey a little lead and watch her side gait, and I’m really happy with what I’m seeing so far. I know she’s only 4.5 months old, and she has a lot of growing and developing to do, but I’m crossing my fingers and getting kind of excited, even though I’m telling myself not to yet.
My only disappointment with the class was that the instructor had forgotten to bring the table, so we were not able to do any table work. Since I am in close contention for the title of Worst Table Trainer In The World, I really want to focus a lot on that between now and Whiskey’s ring debut in April. In hindsight, though, I almost think it might have been better this way; Whiskey got the first class to settle in and build some confidence without us having to face the dreaded table, and I will be more relaxed next week after seeing her adapt so well to the new situation this week.
I plan to whine and plead with Kate to come with me to the next class and bring her camera; if I can talk her into it, I’ll hopefully have some photos to share next week. ‘Til then, I’ll be here, determinedly squelching the little “squee!” that’s trying to escape, lest I anger the Fates and they cast some hideous aspersion on this very promising puppy.