Thursday, June 21, 2007

A Turn At The Wheel

At class on Tuesday, Belle (and the other Tuesday night dogs) were put through their paces by some real pros - 10 of our Helping Paws graduates. We, the Tuesday night foster folks, were instructed to sit in the back, stay out of the way, and for heaven's sakes, don't try to help your dog. Ok, ok, that might not have been quite how Eileen put it, but we got the message.

Since we had more dogs in training than we had graduates, there were two shifts. Belle was in the second shift. Belle and I spent the first shift in the parking lot waiting for her turn at the wheel. She was about as unfocused as she's ever been - or at least in my nervous mom point of view. Compared to all the new people, the smell of the dogs (both service dogs and the hot dogs that were cooking on the grill), watching me was pretty low on her agenda. By the time I went back inside I was a basket case. I swallowed my pride and told Eileen I was having trouble getting her to focus and asked for mercy on the person to whom she would be assigning Belle. I need not have worried.

Eileen assigned Belle to Chad and within 20 seconds of clipping her gentle leader to his flexi-lead, he had her focused and on task. And her tail never stopped wagging the entire time. My non-tail wagger! I sat in my spot with my jaw in my lap. She did under, she did drop, she did my lap, she retrieved and most of all, she looked like she was having a ball. I have to admit, I was kind of crushed. How could she work so well for a total stranger?

I got over it with the help of some sage advice from my fellow foster folks. They reminded me that her ability to focus so quickly on Chad was a good thing and they reminded me that after 15 months together, I'm kind of boring to her. Predictable, even. Put that way, who wouldn't want to work with a new person once in a while - especially a new person from what must seem to her to be the most exotic of species - a man. (Ben - read "you need to come home to visit more often).

The great victuals after the stress test didn't hurt my recovery either!

1 comment:

Sara Latta, said...

It's kind of like how when you got to parent-teacher conferences, and your kid has been a total pain in the a** at home (okay, maybe not yours, but mine)--disrespectful, sullen, etc. And the teachers say, "I really enjoy having your child in my class. He/she really contributes and has a lot of interesting opinions.

And you say WTF? Why can't they be that way at home?