105th: Be not angry at table whatever happens, and if you have reason to do so, show it not; put on a cheerful countenance especially if there be strangers, for good humour makes one dish of meat a feast.
Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott
WEBSITE OF THE DAY
I was looking for information on Cathy Rigby today, for an upcoming review, and ran across this rather weird page!
Today's Search Engine queries:
CHRISTMAS LETTER. Once again, I've posted our Christmas letter on the Internet. It may not be as personal as holding it in your hand--but it's a lot prettier on the net!
THE FRIENDLY BEASTS
10 December 2004
Dave the Dog Trainer drives a Porsch. Does that tell you how much we're paying for dog training lessons?
However, he came in the house and had Sheila lying down on command in the first 10 minutes. By the time he left, 2 hours later, she was walking at heel with me, so I suspect he's worth it. (I grudgingly admit.)
First thing that happened, of course, was that when he walked into the room, Sheila jumped up on him.
"NO!" he said, kneeing her in the chest. She moved back and sat there docilly, looking at him. Why doesn't she do that for me? Because I'm not a "god" in her eyes, of course.
Next he was going to work on getting her to consistently sit, but she does that already--it's her best/only trick--so we moved right on to "down." Hand signals and voice signals. He used the leash and pulled her down several times until she was doing it consistently.
He says she's a "poster dog" for training. I knew she would be. She really is intelligent, and very eager to learn--and the problem I've had is that I don't know how to consistently be "top dog." He pointed out all of the tricks she uses to make herself feel like top dog and how to get past them.
When I tried to get her to go down, she'd keep crowding me until she was right up next to my legs and then lie down on my feet.
A dominance trick, Dave the Dog Trainer tells me.
So I not only need to get her to go down, but to go down away from my body.
When I tried working with the leash, and trying to remember the hand signals, the specific commands, and the tone of voice, something that looked so effortless when he did it, I felt like I had 4 hands and 20 fingers and club feet. Nothing came smoothly (kind of like trying to do all those great PhotoShop tricks that looked so effortless in the seminar). But I was able to get her to go down for me--even if she did it reluctantly.
Then we moved on to "boundaries." He's trying to get her to where she won't go out the open door, or into a room we don't want her to enter (like the living room, where she might eat the furniture. He noticed our lovely screen and thought perhaps we could train her so that we could get rid of that eyesore!)
Next it was outside for "heeling" lessons. I've always wanted a dog who would "heel" and have never been successful in teaching one to do so. It took him roughly 10 minutes. She took so it so well that she was even doing it for ME.
By the time he left, I have homework, a shopping list (he recommends a different dog food than what I've been buying--says her coat will be much shinier and she will poop less and not be quite so hyper).
We have a new pinch collar, a new 6' long leash, and a sheaf of papers to refer to.
I had to laugh at my "homework." In answer to the question, "Why is my dog not responding to me?" it says:
I feel like I'm back in grammar school again, being threatened with being sent to the principal's office if I don't do my homework!
I am encouraged. What was best is that Sheila is a very smart dog who is very eager to please and once she figured out what was expected of her, she seemed to do it easily.
Of course, the difficult part is going to be that he strongly recommends no dog park until we have completed training, because it's going to reinforce the wrong things. I understand that, but she's not going to be happy. He also recommends that she not sleep on my bed, though he wasn't quite as strict about that as everything else. We'll try continuing to have her sleep with me and see what sort of effect it has on the training and then decide how I'm going to proceed after that.
He also recommends leaving her on the leash at all times because it makes it easier to control her, so I'm going to be tripping over the damn leash for awhile now!
When he left, Sheila would not follow him to the front door because she was afraid he'd pull her back if she came too close. THAT was kind of nice because I didn't have to worry about her running out into the driveway.
So we are on our way, I guess. I now have enough invested in the Solid Gold Dog that it's going to be silly if I don't follow through on our "homework." The next lesson is in 10-19 days, which should get us two lessons under our belts before guests arrive for Christmas, and hopefully that will help her be a bit easier to be around.
I have to admit it was wonderful to walk down the street with Sheila and not have her pulling on the leash the whole time!
PHOTO OF THE DAY
State Capitol--all decked out for Christmas