When you life is changed …

10 10 2011

Dear blog reader
I actually had a completely different agenda for this blog, but it changed yesterday. Sometimes you need a special experience to open your eyes and really learn something.

Training season
Yesterday, Sunday morning we went to the weekly obedience training.
It’s the first time this season we go Sunday morning instead of Monday evening.
Things went ok.
Pandora didn’t do the ‘free search’ too well, but she actually managed to pick up the object a return it to me.
The ‘retrieve’ wasn’t perfect either, but I tried with 5 different objects and she did pick them up reluctantly, and as I trained her to keep it in her mouth for two-three seconds, and then fed her a goodie, she started to understand the mechanic’s of the session.

We did the ‘jumping’ exercise. On the command ‘jump’ Pandora jumps across the so called A-board. On command ‘Return’, she should jump back.
This is a risky exercise, as she is acting on her own. I send her forward, and she has to turn around on the other side, without me to stop or guide her.
Sometimes she runs away. Yesterday she did one good, one bad and one where I could call her back.

In two weeks there’ll be a competition in our club.
You compete with the other attendants, but you also collect points to move to Rank B. We are Rank C.
Pandora is 2 1/2 year old. If she had been a German Shepherd, she would have been at Rank B heading Rank A by now. I know it because I have had a GS before and we got quite far. But y’know Pandora …

Disaster waits here
There are 4 things Pandora does very well:
Walking in leash. And on command she can ‘lay down’, ‘sit’ and ‘stand’ and I can walk away from her for a minute or so.
These four exercises are also a part of the competition program, and on that day, she will have to do these four things almost perfectly, and at least one or two other exercises perfect, to get enough points.
So after a 50/50 jump, a 50/50 apport and a not so fantastic ‘free search’, I was very confident in the leash and command exercise.

But I forgot some thing.
The perfect walk in leash is based on me carrying a goodie in my hand. Not allowed at the competition.
So the walking was less beautiful, but I could perhaps refine i within the next 14 days.
Then we prepared for the ‘sit’ command.

The exact exercise is this:

  • You start at a mark. The dog sits next to you
  • You take of the leash.
  • Without the leash you walk to the next mark.
  • At this mark you say ‘sit’, let the dog sit and walk on to mark three.
  • Here you wait until the judge shows that you can go back to the dog and put the leash back on.

For ‘sit’ lay down’ and ‘stand’ the rehearsal is almost the same.

Pandora and I prepared.
We walked to the first mark. Pandora sat by my side and I took off her leash.
That’s all we ever did.
With the tiny ‘click’ from the hook in the leash, Pandora went off and she never came back.
I called and called, I got angry at my husband, at Pandora and at the trainer and his assistant.
‘Be interesting’ they recommended. Jump, run, scream to get her attetion’.
I told them that it wouldn’t work. I have uncountable times been lying on hands and knees in the meadow next to our house. I have been screaming, ignoring, jumping, dancing, growling, whining, whimpering, lying flat on my back, on my stomach, with legs in the air, with my head in a hole.
You name it, I tried it.
It doesn’t work anymore. Pandora ignores me, and she doesn’t take the bait. I am not interesting. That’s it.
But for their sake I ran around a little in an obscene mix of shouting and luring I waved my arms and looked like a complete idiot.
I don’t mean to be rude, but have you ever seen a dog give you the finger?
I swear you could have seen it yesterday.

On shear luck, one of the others at the area grabbed Pandora by the collar, and I could finally get her.
I didn’t praise her, as she wasn’t the one coming to me, I brought her directly down to the car and put her in the cage.
I was blowing steam out of my ears.
And I put her on sale on Twitter when the trainer said: ‘You are right. I don’t think she is ready to join the competition.’
I got hurt. I knew it, but it hurt me anyway.
I cried all the way home in the car. For hours I refused to talk to Pandora, turning my back to her.
I was so disappointed with her. Thinking that if I wanted a dog that could do NOTHING, I might as well buy a toydog.
Still. Writing this, I’m disappointed. No longer in her, but in me.


Czechoslovakian wolfdog bathing

Pandora bathing in the local gravel pit


On the way home from training I analysed the situation.
If we trained every day, we could eventually reach Rank B. But we would never get any further.
For several reasons.
I do believe that some day I can trust her without a leash 90 % of the time. But never 100 %. Never.
Even if she could do all the exercises as requested, it would never be perfect in the way the program subscribes. She will never have her eyes fixed at my face unless we are in a small white room with no sounds, no smells and no distractions at all.
She will never enjoy obeying me for one entire hour if my intentions are as boring as regular training is for a wolfdog.
She will never respect obedience training as a smart thing, as it is too easy and to meaningless to her.
And as goodies are not that important to her, she won’t keep obeying me based solely of them.
At Rank B one of the exercises is ‘tracking’. Pandora is so fantastic at using her nose, but … she doesn’t react to the items on the track or the goodies at the end of the track, as they are not interesting to her.  The track is the interesting thing.
So question is, would she even be able to do a good track?

Thinking all this on the way home, I had to conclude that the main reason we do obedience training is me wanting to prove that a Czechoslovakian wolfdog can obey me. But I am wrong.
Wolfs don’t obey, the follow the interesting leader, and I am loosing the grip.
I am no longer interesting, I am boring, egoistic and apart from bringing her to see other dogs that she can’t even play with, I don’t do much to her satisfaction and stimulation.
A Czechoslovakian wolfdog needs to do three things:

  • use the nose
  • use the head
  • use the body.

And now I have begun thinking something else:
This is like the misunderstood autistic girl in the class. Pandora needs stimulation, but not based on rules. More like based on this breeds capability.
Where can you find working areas for intelligent dogs?

I’m thinking if I could make a sort of ‘pakour area’ for smart dogs. Somewhere to dig holes, hide objects to search for, challenge the snout, challenge the head, exercise the dog in all different ways.
If I had something like the meadow next to our house …
This is just the start. But our experience from yesterday certainly taught me something.
I’m not done thinking, and I’ll let you know what it ends up with.

This was my sharing for today, please send a comment if you fell like it.

NB! Pandora is no longer for sale.

Czechoslovakian wolfdog with friends

Pandora with friends