Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Demo Dog

Belle the Wonder Dog was truly a wonder today. Belle, Molly and I did a demo for the Convent of Visitation (Molly's alma mater) summer camp. The camp had kids ranging in age from Kindergarten to 6th Grade.

We started off the demo by having Belle "get the door" for the children as they arrived. After everyone was seated in the classroom, Belle did a rise and turned on two of the three lights on the switch pad. So far, she was perfect and she only got better from there.

We talked about what Belle was being trained to do, how and why we became her foster home, and then we started walking through her skills. Before we did so, though, I asked the kids if they knew what the first cue was that we teach our dogs. One child said, "sit", another said, "heel", and still another said, "down". All great guesses and all are one of the first cues taught, but when I told them the real answer Belle did something amazing. Belle was in the heel position while we were having the Q & A. But when I said the first cue we teach is "Attention", Belle, on her own, came around to the "front" position and immediately went into Logo Pose. She maintained her focus while I moved a treat around and continued to talk to the kids. The thing is, I've never used the word "Attention" as a cue, and yet she knew just what to do.

During the course of the demonstration, Belle worked each of her cues perfectly. A couple of times, she was her usual extrovert self. After all, those adorable faces watching her less than three feet away and right at kiss level were very tempting, but a few gentle reminders from me was all it took to get her back on task. The funniest moment happened when I asked her to "Speak". She gave me this look that said, "what, here, now?" like she couldn't believe I wanted her to bark inside. Instead, she bowed, and then rolled over as if to say, "you must mean one of these more appropriate cues!" Her antics cracked up the kids. I then told her again to "Speak", gave her a "woof" to encourage her - and she let loose with a great bark. The kids all clapped which prompted Belle to do another roll-over. What a ham!

At the end of the class, I reminded them all of what Belle's pack meant and how they should behave when they see a working dog in public. I then asked Belle to "undress" and each of the kids that wanted to were given an opportunity to greet her, shake her paw and pet her. The best part of all, at least for me, was seeing Belle perform "snuggle" with several of the children and rest her head on their shoulders. Without prompting, without fanfare, just because. The smile on the child's face as well as the smiles of the other adults in the room as she did this was a Kodak moment I'll never forget.

1 comment:

carrot said...

Way to go, Belle! What a pro.