Monday, July 03, 2006

Young Bear

As a young dog, we decided to put Bear in dog training class, having had a taste of it with our previous dog, the schizophrenic German Short Haired Pointer. Remember I said that my husband picked Bear because he was so alert and aware? This was not a good quality for the dog training class.

From day one, he was the most hyper dog in class, noticing everything -- even small and insignificant things way across the park like an empty plastic grocery bag, an orange pylon, or a teeny little dog running around with its owners. He whined or bayed constantly, and with his big hound voice even as a young dog, this was somewhat distracting.

They say hounds are among the hardest dogs to train. They're very intelligent and their noses are amazing. And they don't give up. There is a reason "hounding" someone has the meaning that it does. When they are on scent, they get extremely focused. We've read stories of entire packs killed when they attempted to follow a scent trail through a moving train. Gruesome, but knowing them, I believe it.

One of the disciplines of training was to teach them to ignore distractions and always pay attention to the owner on the other end of their leash (great analogy to the Christian Life, there!) To that end, we were instructed to devise distractions for our training routines. Thus, having exhausted all the usual subjects, one day I took the dustmop, hung a coat around the stick, put a hat and sun glasses on the mop head then propped it up by the mailbox.

Oh my. That was a SCARY thing. He could not stop barking, and he hates the dustmop to this day! (Never know when it might suddenly grow sunglasses and a hat and start walking down the street, I guess).

Here it is when it's not in disguise...

When we used to take walks at 5 am, I had to make sure we gave the old lady with the cane and the little black dachshund wide berth. You would think it was Godzilla come to ravage the town the way Bear carried on. Of course the dachshund was doing exactly the same thing, but he was smaller, quieter and he wasn't pulling the lady's arm out of her socket as he hurled himself at the end of his leash.

Still Bear and I did not quit the class and won "most improved team" by unanimous vote (Yes, I even voted for us!). Even though he didn't pass. They had a dog show going on at the park on the day of our final exam and the long stay (lying down for three minutes off leash) was just more than he could handle with all those distractions.

Still plugging along. 3 1/2 chapters to go, yet, so the blogging may be spotty this week...


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