Friday, May 27, 2011

Forgot to mention

Parker passed both the CGC and the therapy evaluation just fine, with no mishaps or need to repeat an exercise.


Face it; Dogs are just funny

Parker is a sprawler. When he goes to sleep, he starts by lying on his side, but as his sleep deepens, he will slowly roll over onto his back and end up with four legs going in four directions.

When riding in the car, he likes to sit up on a car and look our the (closed) window. (For those who remember my harness problems of a while back, yes, he has learned to hop up onto the seat when I ask so I can fasten his harness.)

Those two characteristics resulted in a bit of silliness yesterday. He had a day at a boarding kennel I've been considering for him. A friend boards her Golden there and recommended it. Missy, the Golden, and Parker have had several play dates and meet regularly when I would take Parker to observe Missy's rally classes. So my friend offered to take Missy to the kennel yesterday so Parker's first visit would involve interaction with a friend. We paid a bit extra so they could have a field trip (a romp in a multi-acre, fenced area of both open field and slightly wooded area). We dropped them off together. Parker seemed hesitant to go with the kennel guy, but when he agreed to take both together, he followed Missy without a qualm. Then my friend and I went off for a day of window shopping and yummy cheesecake (*my* reward for leaving Parker).

When we returned six hours later, Parker was happy to see me, but his tail was up and wagging before he caught sight of me, which was good. I got him into the car and he hopped up onto h is seat, got buckled in, and fell asleep before we left the parking lot. On the ride home, he fell off the seat three times, starting his sprawl, he was just that pooped. Each time he'd get back up onto the seat and slowly fall asleep again and fall off.

I will take him back to that place again in a couple of weeks for an overnight as Mike and I have a trip planned. I have to make sure that they mark his records better, though. When I picked him up and asked how he did, the kennel guy said he was very well behaved except he didn't come when called to get out of the field. Then ended up sending Missy back for him. She brought him back in. I was about to explain that he's still rather shy when the kennel guy said, "I called, 'Tyler! Tyler! Tyler! But he wouldn't even look at me.'" That's when I had to explain that Tyler is *my* name, not his.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Class is over

Yesterday was the last class before tonight’s Canine Good Citizen Test and Therapy Dog Evaluation. The entire class was run as if it were the real thing. Although not all the dogs have therapy work in their future, the tests are so similar, we all did both. Starting with a greeting, the dog was seated next to the owner and an evaluator came up, asked to pet the dog. Then (the therapy part), the evaluator ran a brush over the dog, touched its paw and tail. Next step was loose leash walking. Set off, turn right, walk, about turn, walk, left turn, walk back to the start, with a slow and fast pace in there somewhere. Third part was walking through a crowd, with greeting people thrown in for therapy, with distraction (banging food dishes). Fourth was a down stay, owner walks twelve feet away, returns to the dog, walks away twelve feet and calls the dog. Fifth was leaving the dog with a trusted stranger while the owner disappears for three minutes, returns to the dog who doesn’t get hyper. Sixth and final was a greeting with another dog being walked. Owners stop, dogs on the outside, shake hands and walk away, with the dogs not reacting.

When we got to class, there was a little tyke at the table with a coloring book. This was a perfect set up for Parker, who loves little girls, so I took him over to her and asked her if she’d like to pet him. She came up to us and started running her hands over him and he sat quietly, with his eyes closed, slowly leaning into her. (Imagine sixty pounds of dog leaning into thirty pounds of little girl.) I thanked her and we went out into the ring to warm up. He was so happy. Then we left the ring when class started.

When it was our turn, we went out and Parker sat nicely. When the evaluator came up to us, he got up and took a couple of steps toward her (he wasn’t on a stay). This is a monumental improvement for my shy boy. Then he sat and she pet him and, using the brush I brought, ran it over him, touching his feet and tail. Hey, he’s a Poodle, he’s been groomed a lot. No problem. Then we started our loose leash walk, which is not a heeling pattern. Just in case, I had the leash looped over my shoulder. Parker was perfect. Right up to the end, when, for the last several steps, he hopped on his hind legs, his front paws being busy, balancing on my butt. I think the evaluator was too doubled over with laughter at this to mark us down.

On to the wandering through the crowd. He did stellar, not going up to anyone or shying away, until I asked him to meet each person. He sat quietly for the man, who rubbed his ears (Parker likes that); sat nicely for the evaluator in the wheelchair, another teacher he had avoided throughout the classes, who pet him gently; standing by the teacher in the walker who has held him before every class while I would run to the bathroom, who disliked all Poodles until meeting Parker and now loves them; and finally getting some time with his little friend, laying his head in her lap. The banging food dishes didn’t distract him. He reacted by looking at them, but otherwise ignored them.

For the next part, he sat when I asked, but took a minute to do the down. I don’t like repeating myself, so when I said, “down,” and he didn’t, I said, “Uh oh,” and repeated the gesture. That time he flopped onto his belly. I told him to wait, walked away, turned around and came back and then walked away again. And he followed. That was entirely my fault. Not only did I not tell him to stay, but I started off on my left foot, the signal to follow. So I took him back, had him sit, told him to wait and walked away, this time starting on my right. Perfect. I turned and called him and he rushed to me, leash dragging, which he normally hates.

He had no problem being left with someone in a chair while I went outside. When I came back, he remained sitting, but I could see his tail wagging and another person holding another dog said he started to smile as soon as he saw me. But He Didn’t Move. W00t!

We had to wait for a meet and greet until another person was ready. One of the teachers had her Golden Retriever there for that, which worried me. Parker’s good buddy Missy is a Golden and he gets very excited when he sees another one. But she was busy, so we did it with another student who has a Chocolate Lab. Parker did great, not sitting when we stopped (we weren’t on a heel, just a loose leash) and he didn’t react when the Lab stuck his nose in my crotch.

We would have passed!

The real test is tonight.

News at eleven.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

I think he's got it

Yesterday I took Parker into the bedroom to do some training. Not my first choice of venue, but we were having another day of pouring rain, so it was inside or nothing. He trotted in with me without hesitation (I had chicken!) and, as soon as I shut the door on a disappointed Emmy and turned around, Parker started throwing behaviors at me! He's never done that before, always waiting for me to ask for something. Yes, it can be frustrating when I want to work on fronts to have a dog doing rapid sits, downs, spins and whatever else he can think of, but it was a special moment to see that he finally understood that I wanted something and he was willing to try to second guess what that something was.


Don't remember if I ever said that Parker and I have been attending a friend's rally classes. One of my teachers had recommended that that would be a good place to take him in my continuing efforts to get him socialized. Lots of other dogs and dog-people. From the first, the teachers in that class have been asking me if I wanted to take Parker through the course. Every time I've said I would after the class was over, if there were time, but there never was. But yesterday, due in part to my apparent inability to read a clock, we got there fifteen minutes early, and when I got the same question and gave the same answer, one teacher said, "No one else is here -- do it now!" So we did. Of the fifteen signs, there were two I couldn't figure out and, I was told after, several I did wrong. But *I* did them wrong. Parker did everything I asked! No, not properly or elegantly. His fronts were crooked, and each time he did a three-sixty first (he would be in a crooked front, I'd take one step back, he'd pop up, spin around and sit in a crooked front). When we came to a sign for a down, when I asked for one, instead of the beautiful elegance you'd expect from a Poodle, he threw himself onto his back and waved his legs in the air. But he did it!

But the best part was that he went through the entire course with his tail held up high and wagging with vigor. Bouncing. It was pretty damned cool.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

He was easier when he was shy

Another class day today. Parker was raring to go when we got there, although he managed to control himself when we got there early and watched the puppies. Somehow I’m going to figure out how to steal the little collie and take it home. Then they put up some agility stuff and we were told to walk our dogs around. Parker headed right for the tunnel, but another dog was there first. So Parker started barking! Parker never barks! He was dancing on his hind legs and pulling to get at it, so once the other dog cleared the tunnel, we took off at a run, or as close to a run as I can mange. I dropped the leash and he plowed through the tunnel at top speed, getting to the other end before me and spinning around on a dime to leap up by me. So we did it a second time. Only this time, instead of waiting for me at the end, he took off to go greet the other dogs. Yes! Parker! He eventually came back, but he was hyped up and very excited. We did the other stuff, but his heart wasn’t in it. He wanted the tunnel. Right before the tunnel, they had put a ladder on the ground and he was so focused on the tunnel that he never seemed to notice that he was walking through the ladder. Something he normally doesn’t do.

Even when the put a u-turn in the tunnel, stretched it out to its full length, and turned it into a s-shape, he had no hesitation running through it. He was in heaven.

Sadly, the new schedule of classes is out and there’s no agility listed for next time. So I’ll either have to choose between rally and pre-novice or maybe do both.