Sunday, September 2, 2007

Obedience 101

Tai has been a lot of things, a second puppy, a little brother, a really big boy, but he is also the very first one we have had to complete our obedience class. Let us explain. We attend an obedience class down the street from Matthew's work, as do several of the guide dog pups in our group. It is held on Monday nights - but so are our monthly group meetings. Ergo, we have missed classes - and it just so happened that with both Voight and Liam, our monthly meeting fell on the last obedience class - so truly, we have never "completed" class. Our instructor, Chris, is an exceptionally nice guy (he would like to raise a GDA pup, but given his line of work, he cannot, so he lets all of us GDA people come for free) and he completely understands why we miss class and doesn't mind.

Tai went this past Monday to class. We had actually lost track of the classes and didn't know that this was the last one, so when Chris told us to put our dogs on a down stay, and walk around the corner, we weren't sure how it was going to go. Everyone walked around the corner and we were followed only by a little Pit bull who didn't want to be separated from her mommy. No Tai. Hmmm. Chris had us come back to about 12 feet in front of the row of dogs, and then turn and walk away from them. I (Amy) walked away from the dogs, and did not hear the scratch of claws on asphalt. I reached the other side - and only three dogs are left: a gigantic Rottweiler, Tai, and a chocolate lab. We then had to walk back to the twelve foot mark, say the dog's name, and then turn and walk back. I tried to give Tai the I'm-saying-your-name-not-recalling-you look (if that even exists), said his name firmly, and walked back to my spot. While I was walking back, I'm mouthing to the people watching "IS HE STAYING?"

He did. The chocolate lab broke, and ran after her daddy. Still Tai stayed. Just him and the Rottie.

We then had to walk back, kneel down, say their name again. Rottie sat there. Tai couldn't take it and RAN into my arms. I caught him in full run, gave him a squeeze, and told him he was a good boy. Seven and a half months, and doing down stays - on a day, that truly, he had been a bit of a knucklehead. That's m'boy.

There is another story here - but it wasn't our pup. Very dear friends of ours raised a GDA pup named Willow a few years back. She was joy personified, the happiest dog that ever has lived. She did the same obedience class - except when everyone went around the corner, she looked left, looked right - and led a full-on mass break of all the dogs. One of our friends, who witnessed it said it looked like Willow had a "Sound of Music" moment - running in the hills, happy as can be - and just happened to take all of her friends with her. Willow has been a guide for a couple of years now - and from what we hear, is still as happy as ever.

Maybe Tai will follow her lead in about a year and a half...

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