Thursday, September 14, 2006

Heel? Here is my heel...

When I was a teenager and doing obedience and confirmation training with my first Lab Gillie, there was this great Peanuts cartoon with Charlie Brown and Snoopy that I cut out and saved it for years.

The cartoon showed Charlie Brown with a leash on Snoopy and he says “Heel!” the next frame is Snoopy saying “Heel?” then the next few frames show Snoopy doing a little dance and singing “Here is my heel, here are my toes, these are my paws and this is my nose, heel, toes, paws, nose. Heel, toe, paws nose, heel, toes, paws, nose!” The cartoon just made me laugh out loud, because while Gillie was very good at obedience, there were dogs I knew who I swore were singing the “Heel, Toes, Paws, Nose” song.

Anyhow, at the first meeting of obedience class owners had to come without their beloved canine, which was a walk in the park, but tonight is Dory’s first night at obedience and I have to say I’m more than just a little nervous.

She is a sweetheart, but even good dogs can have their moments. Dory tends to pull on the leash, for no other reason than she is excited to get where we are going. I tried a chain link collar or “choke chain” as some say, on her (they clearly had one on her at her adoptive home in the pictures), but that doesn’t seem to faze her and Chris thinks they are cruel. I don’t get the cruel part, but sometimes it’s just too much effort to argue.

I am now trying a “gentle leader head collar”, which is supposed to be effective but I’m not having a huge amount of luck with it. Plus, Dory has learned to rub her head all over the ground and furniture until the across the nose part comes off. Another $28 misspent.

The training leaders gave us homework last week that I have tried with Dory during this week. The first activity was the “Get it Game” in which you toss a treat and then recall with “Dory, Come” and try to get a hold on her collar as she returns. She did well with this but we were in the house – outside has way too many distractions so who knows what tonight will be like.

She has been excelling on her sit command and the other activity they group encouraged trying was a “check in”. This seems to work, although Dory would shave her own fur off her body for treats. The activity was to give your dog a treat and praise every time they looked at you. My problem is that with nice smell semi-moist food cubes and string cheese there was no way Dory would look away from me – I was positively stared at!

So who knows – if you are near the Cambridge Armory around 7 PM you may hear Dory singing a few rousing rounds of “Heel, Toes, Paws, Nose” while at class!

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