Lately my dogs and I have been running from one activity to another. We are involved with Five Flags Dog Training club’s “Caring Canines” program, giving demonstrations at various retirement and convalescent homes, showing off our dog’s obedience or agility skills and ending with a square dance drill with our dogs. This week we had two events. The latest was at a place called The Blake in Gulf Shores, Florida, just over the bay bridge from downtown Pensacola. Although the heat index was about 108 degrees and my car windows were up with the air conditioner on full blast, I could still smell the fresh salt air. On the drive back along highway 98 I saw the location of a new Japanese restaurant I want to visit, just down the street from the turn off to Pensacola Beach.
The Five Flags DTC also has free training opportunities for members. My youngest Border Collie, Mickey, aka Mickey Mouse, is enrolled in a basic obedience class. It was finally time to deal with Mick’s worst habit. He has a strong urge to “kill” overhead fans. The training facility has three of these monster fans, ready to reach down and tear poor Mickey to shreds. He is on the alert the minute he walks into the building, snapping, barking and jumping up to catch the blades as they whirl around, oblivious to him. This is very disruptive behavior during the class. I used a spray bottle to let him know this was not appropriate behavior. He must be a reincarnated Labrador Retriever. He loved the spray in his face. The only thing that slowed him down, and for the most part stopped his snarling and barking behavior, was good old fashioned picking him up by the scruff, looking him in the eyes and saying, “No!” It took awhile but he finally let the fan monster win; only giving a few quick growls at the end of the class two hours later. I know Mickey will continue this nonsense every time we go back. But there is a trophy for most improved dog and I know we can lick this devil-made-me-do-it madness. As for the actual obedience and rally exercises he was a willing and happy student.
Levi and I went to a private lesson where I admitted to feeling like a Novice A student. After thirty years of dog training, I’m venturing into new frontiers. Levi is at a level that could well give me the biggest goal of my obedience training career-a Utility title. He is teaching me every pitfall along the way. What should we do when he adds his twist to each exercise? My trainer calmly guided me through each step, adding that Levi is a smart, willing dog but is just a bit confused. I have my homework to do. We have come so far. Who knew that he would finally understand scent articles or directed jumping? We continue to work on novice work, a constant battle as he likes to do the Border Collie forge and has almost tripped me in the ring. But overall we are making progress which is so very exciting. Dog training can be fun and frustrating at the same time. But at least it is time spent with my dog and for that I am blessed.