There is no “relax” command meant for the owners…

Remember - there's really only 17 or so BASIC commands...ds...

So yesterday we began professional dog training. With our last dog, we decided we could do this on our own. While Maggie wasn’t the BEST mannered dog, she was a GOOD dog, the love our lives and we miss her dearly. But this time we decided, we’ll try and give this puppy our best shot at being a GREAT dog!
We hired a trainer to come into our home and get us going. Miss Sierra greeted our new friend Jason, at the door. She immediately jumped up on him, circled his legs, tugged at his trousers. threw herself onto his feet, pulled at his shoe strings and then repeated it all.  He said, “You notice how I am ignoring her and not giving her any attention whatsoever, not even any eye contact.” He continued to talk to me and then she quit and lied down. I was impressed. I am now thinking… I must make a sign and hang it outside my front door. It will say –  “To all who enter – please totally ignore the puppy that is about to nip at your heels and tear your pants apart. Do NOT acknowledge that she even exists. That means no eye contact whatsoever even if she is trying to chew your leg off. THANK YOU!”

Miss Sierra is then placed in her crate so we can discuss strategy in another room. She doesn’t like her crate so we hear her whine and bark for nearly an hour while we get educated on turning her into a lovely animal that will eventually LOVE her crate.

He gets us started with, “Be a Leader! Remember that your dog is a pack animal and is craving order, structure, and leadership. Leaders follow through, are persistent, consistent, and never give up. Be patient, stay calm, and have FUN when working with your dog.” Okie dokie, we’re in!

We learn about the affection jar: praise, treats and playtime, vs the leadership jar: following commands, going to and staying in her “place,” discipline. There should be more stones in the leadership jar. Remember – she craves structure and order.

Next we actually start working with the dog. This involves using commands. Never use sentences with dogs. Just one word. And don’t repeat the command over and over. Like, sit… sit… sit… sit Sierra… C’mon girl sit… Can you SIT Sierra?… What the hell is wrong with you? I said SSSSIIIIITTTT! ALWAYS use a matter of fact, normal tone.

We learned how to walk her, using “heel” – when to use “touch” vs “snap” on the leash to redirect her. This takes days of practice EVERY DAY and remember it’s a MUST to be consistant. NEVER yell, shout or get angry. We got educated on outside play areas – what should be off zone and what area belongs to her. How she should have her “special place” indoors where she will go and stay when we have company over or when we want her to leave us alone. She will go there and stay when we say “place.” Really?? Don’t FORGET! You need to practice this EVERY DAY!

So by the time Jason left, we had a notebook full of what to do, what not to do and how to use the 17 or so simple one word commands. When to use “off” vs “down.” When to say “drop” vs “leave it.” When to use a high pitch, when to use a stern voice. On our sheet of instructions is a command called “relax.” Oh good, I think… this must be for the owners. No… it means, “release hips to the side when in the down poisition.”

Oh… of couse it does.

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“Mamas’ don’t let your babies grow up to be cowboys…”

Thirty years ago I had a four year old. He looked a lot like this four year old. Not surprisingly, this is his son. When our children are young, we have aspirations for them and dreams of them being successful. As we observe them in their formative years, we think maybe we have figured out what they might become as adults. There’s the one that likes attention – maybe he’ll be an actor. There’s the one that excels in sports – maybe he’ll be a pro athlete. There’s the one that likes to read – maybe he’ll be a teacher. And the riddle goes on and on.
All we parents want though, is our children to be happy. That’s it, plain and simple. No matter what vocation they choose, we just want them to enjoy their lives or at the very least, feel contented.
I found that my own sons changed direction so many times that it was impossible to keep up with what they really wanted out of life. It wasn’t mine to figure out. They got to do that and I had no say whatsoever. They do find their way. And now that they all have children of their own, I am again, observing. Wonder what she will do. Wonder what he will become. Look at how well he’s doing that… etc, etc. I stop and remember, it’s not mine to figure out.  They will all find their way… and a cowboy, that will be just fine.

60 something… Really… it IS just a number.

60 something... Really... it IS just a number.

I haven’t blogged in three weeks. Just got too busy with life and caring for a new puppy. As all dog lovers know, having a dog to love and be loved by, is a wonderful part of life that we wouldn’t want to miss.
What is also a wonderful part of life is being older. Sometimes I find myself admiring the tanned, thin, firm, cute bodies of the thirty somethings that seem to flaunt themselves in front of me at the mall, jogging down the street or picking their kids up from school when I am there to retrieve my granddaughter. I think, wow – where did the time go? That used to be me!!
There is song called “The Story.” It’s a sweet little composition that begins with, “All of these lines across my face, tell you the story of who I am. So many stories of where I’ve been and how I got to where I am.”
I am fortunate. I know that. I am still alive at 62. I have lost some friends that didn’t get to live this long. I don’t know why I have. What is really a blessing is that I have friends that I get to grow older with. The very same friends that were there when we were ALL tan, thin and firm. Inside, we don’t really feel any different than we did when we were giggling school girls, sharing a cherry coke and a plate of fries at W.T. Grants after school.
We laugh just as heartedly as we did when we were 17 and boy crazy, rocking out to Steppin’ Wolf and The Dave Clark Five. We haven’t changed that much at all.
We all have grown children now and grandchildren and new experiences to share and bounce off one another. We share just like we did when we were in high school. We are friends – we have fun – we love one another – we don’t feel old – we don’t act old- and we are 60 something. And really… it IS just a number!