Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Progress Report

Liam does play time, not!

We're almost midway through our seven doggie obedience classes, and our attendance record has remained stellar. 

Last night, however, we were very fortunate to avoid being marked tardy and sent to the office for a tardy slip (added just for you, Ginny!)

As we walked into the upstairs classroom at the Pend Oreille Pet Lodge classroom, all dogs and handlers had already lined up for the first exercise of the night. 

Two steps after racing through the sliding glass door, Liam tipped over a full water dish, creating an instant lake and a mild pandemonium.  

I found one towel nearby, and Glenna brought another to soak up all the water.  

Instead of reprimands, however, we received encouragement from our instructor.   

"Calm down," Glenna said, "acknowledging that Liam had not had his usual time to acclimate himself for this class session. 

Usually Liam arrives early, and that advance time has given him an opportunity to figure out that everything will be okay, even if those other dogs bark back when he barks at them. 

Last night Bill and I were running late, so it was not Liam's fault anyway.  As a high school teacher, I heard that excuse a time or two, so tell that to the truant officer!

Anyway, when we found our spot in line and I had steady access to pocket treats, Liam settled down fairly quickly.  By the way, he's the youngest student in doggie obedience class by at least a couple of months, so let's just say his focus skills haven't completely developed.

Last night's session started off with heeling and sitting at cones.  Liam executed each heel and sit perfectly, even though his mistress had to be told, at first, to let the leash have some slack.  

We worked with some "come" exercises, asking our dogs to come to us on six-foot leashes and then, one-by-one, practicing on a 20-foot line with an instructor charming our pups at one end and our instructions to have treat in hand and yell "come" when given the green light.  

Again, Liam did very well at these two segments. 

When the official session ended, Glenna told us we could stay after class and watch our dogs play with each other off leash.  

Well, Liam had gone to one supervised puppy play time last Thursday where we were encouraged to bring our dogs and then leave for a while. 

When I left, Liam was hiding under a chair. When I returned, he was nowhere to be seen. Seems he and two adorable, younger Weimaraners had spent their puppy play separated from the other, bigger pups.  

That separation may have occurred shortly after one of the little guys got squashed on the floor by a bigger pup, hell bent for leather to race around with a barking Jack Russell terrior. 

Puppies are amazingly resilient, I'd say, because the little guy sprung right back up, even though probably in a mental daze. 

Well, the Weimeraners were being carried out the door by their owners when I returned, so Liam was allowed out with the big dogs again.  

He came straight to me and would not leave my side.  When I thought it might be wise to stand in the middle of the floor to encourage him to mix it up with the others, I soon thought it would be wise to move to the wall where both Liam and I would be safe. 

Seems the middle of the classroom floor was a major intersection in dogs running with dogs every which way but loose.  All I could think of at that moment was the story I heard last year from our horse vet about her knee just heeling up in time for racing dogs to come at full speed her way and wipe her out once more.  

The knee didn't fare so well.  I think she had to get surgery again.

Stories like these and knowledge that dogs don't always look where they're going while chasing something in earnest alerted me immediately that the canine intersection in the obedience classroom is probably not a good place for an old two legged coot without wings to stand. 

On puppy play day, Liam never did get in the mix, so we headed on our way.  Well, last night's socializing session with the likes of Annie, Radar, Gillie, Cello, that pick-pocket Sam, the treat thief) etc. turned out pretty much the same. 

Liam wasn't impressed. 

This growing, boisterous at-home boy, who rolls and runs and snarls and play bites with Foster for hours on end,  would have no part of socializing with the other dogs. 

Humans, they're just fine.  Liam truly loves humans, but he's a part of a pack at home, and it seems that's enough dogs for him. 

I still have a hard time believing he is so shy.  Those in the know say that will change with time and a some more maturity.  

Overall, we seem to be doing okay with learning and practicing what we learn. As of today, Liam has been here at the Lovestead for two months, and when I think back on how Bill and I were run ragged with the initial potty training morning, noon and night workouts, I'm thinking we've all come a long ways. 

It's pretty satisfying. 

As I come to a close this morning, I can hear a CHEEEZE burger bird outside because it's warm enough to open the window.  

Ah, spring is a few minutes closer, and that is good. 

Happy Wednesday.  


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