Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Obedience School

Tonight was the last of six sessions of obedience classes for Bailey. He's a smart puppy and so things have been pretty good - even though I don't work with him half as much as I should - but tonight was "the" night. Tonight was the exam.

As we went through out paces - and honestly is obedience class for the dog or the human??? - it was such an odd feeling knowing that someone was judging 'our' behaviour. Did he break during the sit/stay? Did he get distracted when the trainer walked by with the squeaky toy (his absolute favorite by the way)??? Will he 'measure up'? Will I measure up?

It's a very bizarre process. I know that this judging and evaluating is pretty much bogus. After all, the goal of the classes - ultimately - is to sell us on more classes (next step advanced obedience). Of course we need to learn and improve, otherwise the word of mouth advertising - the best after all - would fail miserably. And so there have been improvements. Some amazing improvements too.

Take Rocky. The chihuahua who arrived at the first class snarling, growling and barking at everything on two and four legs. At 'graduation' Rocky was able to sit (albeit off to one side) for the photo shoot along with all the other dogs. {ps... don't you just LOVE that the littlest dog in the group was named 'Rocky'... I LOVE it}.

So comes the graduation. Each of us comes forward, receives our diploma along with a scorecard indicating where we need to pay some specific attention to training, etc. And you can feel the .... tension .... in the room.

Winston. Dusty. Max. Henry. Then Bailey.

I take Bailey up to get his diploma and they tell me that he's done an amazing job (odd considering that he absolutely HATES to heel in class - does pretty good on our walks but when it comes to class ... nah, not so much .... so I spend a fair bit of time dragging him around). I shake hands with the trainers - SO formal - and they hand me his 'diploma' and scorecard and we return to our seat. 18 is the best you can do (6 questions with a max of 3 per question) and it's with an odd sense of judgement that I turn the page over to see his score.

I know he's improved from 6 weeks ago even though we absolutely haven't practiced as much as we should. Plus there are all kinds of conflicting messages since I'm the only one taking the training but not the only one spending time with him at home. But he does sit patiently in front of his food until I give him the OK to eat. He's a great dog and I've learned alot of tips/tricks in these classes that I need only to apply. So why the need for approval from those I pay to teach me? It's quite odd. And I know it doesn't matter.

oh yeah ..... he got 17 out of 18.

that's my boy !

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