By Lynn –
Working the closing shift last night got me into quite a tizzy, if you can even call it that. Well, it was either that or the full moon of Crazies and Cool People. Crazies aside, two very memorable experiences came out of that Saturday…
The first being the woman who mentioned that she worked Schutzhund. I can’t even imagined how I looked when I heard that, my eyes must’ve been bugging out of my head and my smile was probably too wide for my face, and who knows if my hair was standing on end on top of my head. Apparently there are more clubs around here than I thought, but when I mentioned the master trainer of the club of which I’ve attended trials, she said that he did DVG and not USA (United Schutzhund Club of America) style. Any takers at explaining that? Since it’s the only club at which I’ve attended trials and actually been able to see what’s going on and how training goes, I thought that’s how most all Schutzhund worked. Granted, I’ve heard that you can teach police K9 and Schutzhund through clicker training/positive-only, but I’ve got doubts about that. But believe me, I was excited to meet someone who worked with the sport so locally.
The second one made me wish I had a bit more money: a customer came in, checked out with his dog food and whatnot, and then asked to see a remote trainer. I got one of the Innoteks off the back wall, started explaining the collar to him, the different stim levels and whatnot, and then asked if he’d ever used one before. His answer stunned me: he was an inventor and merely wanted to see the mechanisms of the remote and receiver (which I couldn’t take out of the box, but he was interested in anyway) because he wanted to work on something like a remote pinch collar. I took him back to the pinch collars and asked again if I’d heard right, that he wanted to use this medieval-torture look-alike and transform it into something the public would take to even better and he said “That’s exactly right. When they’re puppies, doesn’t the mother bite their necks in order to correct them?”
Turns out that this man knows his dogs! We talked for a while about the publicity and political correctness of using the term “shock,” which, though connected to an absolutely phenomenal training tool, causes many people to jerk back and go “Wait, I’m going to do WHAT to my dog?!” The same thing is caused by the pinch collar, when just by looking at it, people shake their heads and say “No WAY am I even touching that thing, much less putting it on my dog!” and then of course, it’s either up to the great orator, the magical salesperson, the well-known and well-spoken-of dog trainer, or the extremely desperate/open-minded customer to get it out of the store. This guy’s idea was to use only a few of the prongs and make a remote training collar out of those instead of having the whole collar made up out of them, taking away that torture-device look…even the remote trainers have ‘prongs’ on them, don’t they, and people still use them?
After he left, my co-worker and I were still discussing his idea, and she gave me an earful about how she was so upset about peoples’ responses to the training collars&they’re here to help the dogs, she said, not hurt them. Even dogs use pain and punishment among themselves, only when needed and it ceases immediately when the desired response is achieved.
People amaze me every day, and that experience really made my day, knowing that someone out there has the time, desire, knowledge and motivation to think of making something like that gives me some hope about aspects of humanity.
But on to fun accomplishments:
My breaking and training class participated for fun in the livestock show presented by the University, obviously only in the equine part unless someone was conned into doing the whole thing: presenting the horse, a lamb, a beef and a dairy cow, and a pig. Seeing as how I had to work yesterday, I couldn’t do it all, plus I don’t know the first thing about handling any livestock other than horses, so I only showed as a student in the class. The equine portion consisted of showmanship, in which we lead the horse through a pattern and demonstrate good handling skills, while the horse demonstrates its respect of the handler and knowledge of cues.
First came the preparation: Mystique pretty much would walk, trot and back in hand, but forget pivoting on her hindquarters! I’d taught her to yield her hindquarters to me when I asked, but making the front end move around the back end was just about impossible without constant physical pressure. I’d pretty much gotten to the point where, working in the arena with all 24 head that morning, she wasn’t going to perform and I may as well do what I could with what I had.
I’ve never been in a horse show either, but I know there’s also a lot of cleaning that goes into it, especially regarding the horse: problem being, Mystique lives outside and outside during this season usually means a whole lot of dirt, snow and mud. Even so, the night before, I went to the barn and waited my turn in the wash rack to simply shampoo off her legs and tail and coat them with a hefty spritz of Show Sheen to keep the dirt off until the morning. I spent 30 minutes getting the horrible dreadlocks out of that mare’s tail, but it lasted: the next morning, I barely even had to brush it out and it was so silky and pretty! Her one white sock, on the other hand, had a bit of dirt on it, so I washed both back legs again, scrubbed the dirt off the hoof walls, and called it a morning. (The day before, my prof showed me how to rasp down her hooves, even gave me a chance to do so, and he’d helped me clip her bridle path and clean up her whiskers.)
My portion of the show lasted about 2-3 minutes, but it was some of the most intense minutes ever, and that darned horse pulled out all the stops for me! She walked next to me, picked up the trot IMMEDIATELY as I leaned forward and sped up, halted when I did, backed up as I faced her, and…and…she did an almost-perfect pivot the 270-degrees required of us! Her square set (all four hooves together, weight distributed equally and squarely across all four legs) was not quite what we’d practiced, but I moved from side to side appropriately as the judge walked around her, then said “Thank you” and dismissed us. I watched the video (hopefully I’ll get it up on YouTube one of these days if I can find the camera cords and the CD needed to record onto the computer) and was simply amazed. Mostly by her tail, but come on…30 minutes well-spent and everyone agrees that a beautiful long, flowing, silky tail is half the battle!
We placed 4th overall out of 20! 😀