Friday, January 11, 2013

Dog School

Dog school re-opened yesterday after being closed by damage from Hurricane Sandy. Wonderdog and I do AKC Obedience together. At present, we're training in Rally, which is a separate discipline, but related to Obedience. You can read about it here.

From the time I took out the treat bag to fill it, Wonderdog knew where we were going. He perked up and followed my every motion to make sure he didn't miss anything. I put on his harness, strapped him into his seatbelt, and we were on our way.

When we got there, he wanted to sniff every inch of the property (it's a small property--the work is done indoors) and when we got inside he was literally vibrating with excitement. Being a terrier, he squealed and wimpered, too. It reached the point that I had to hold him on my lap to keep him quiet and calm. At 23 pounds, Wonderdog does fit on my lap, but he looks pretty funny when he's there.

Our Obedience classes usually began with group heeling, so all the dogs were on the floor together and walking, so they had a chance to calm down a bit, but Rally doesn't work that way. Rally basically consists of a dog and handler team heeling through an obstacle course of sorts. It's not like Agility, which you've probably seen on TV. Agility is the one where the dogs go up a ramp, through a tunnel and over a teeter-totter. The Rally course is all on the floor, but the dog needs to heel (walk beside the handler) while the handler walks around in circles, in figure 8's, and stops and starts. It's all about whether the dog can pay attention to the handler and stick with her no matter what she does.

Wonderdog wanted to smell the floor.

We were the second class of the day, and people had dropped treats. Of course, no dog would leave a whole treat on the floor, but sometimes they forget a crumb or two. And Wonderdog's nose can find every crumb in the place. All I had to do was get his attention.

So goes the challenge of dog school. I work hard through the whole class to keep Wonderdog's attention. Wonderdog works hard through the whole class to contain his excitement. After all, in addition to the occasional treat crumb, there are five other dogs in the room, and two in the office waiting for the teachers.

Boy are we glad to be back!

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