13 Weeks- The Bumblebee Retrieves

Sep 6, 2004 | Stitch's Story

Thirteen weeks old. And to celebrate, we go out the screen room and work on retrieving. I have three dumbells, wood, leather, and metal. My plan is to do a bit of gripping with each of them, then take each and shape her to touch it in various parts of the room. We start with the wooden one, the one we’ve worked with previously. Her grip is surprisingly good. No chewing, and only minor mouthing.

I tease her with it a bit, then toss it off to one side about 4′ away from me. Her towel from yesterday is still on the floor. This causes some confusion. She climbs on it, lies down, and waits a moment. Then she tries Sit and Stare, which doesn’t work either. Then she starts touching the dumbell. I toss the treats all around the room, and she’s running right back to target the db. I start clicking only for bumping it, moving it around the floor. Around the 15th bump, she picks it up. Oh my! A few false starts where I have to go back to clicking the bump, and I can afford to wait to click only when she picks it up. The holding gets solider and solider. The first time, it takes her 11 clicks to get the db from the other side of the room to where I can touch it – she picks it up, turns toward me, gets the click, drops it, chases down the treat, runs back to pick it up again. When she’s only taking 5 clicks to bring it into range, I switch to the leather db.

She does even better with the leather. I start with it in hand. She sniffs it, then starts gripping it as if it’s the wooden one but tastes better. I toss it across the room, and she brings it back in 4 clicks. We do that x7, then switch to the metal one.

I don’t do the metal one in hand, just toss it and start shaping. This is more difficult. It takes her 25 clicks to pick it up. At one point it’s a bit too close to her towel and she lies on the towel nudging it and trying to pick it up. The third time I can reach it, she’s brought it back in 3 clicks, and she does that twice more before we stop. Wow!

We have 10 more kibbles to work eye contact.

I’m desperate to work on retrieving again but superstitiously don’t want to do anything to disturb the memory of this WONDERFUL lunch. So I take a tennis ball out to the screen room. It froze last night and the fishpond pump is floating and making a very strange noise. She’s very distracted, and I think she might decide to be frightened of it in a minute.

I make some noises and get a glance, click that, make more noises, rapidfire some clicks for looking in my direction, then start waiting for Eye Contact. She forgets all about the pump noise and gets into the Game.

We spend a couple of minutes on the towel. She knows it’s a mat now.

I roll the ball away from me, she runs after it and bunts it with her nose. I click that, and she rolls it all over the floor. She’s having a great time, but I’m getting bored, so I put a pen down. She targets the pen twice, and the third time picks it up. Holy cow. Within five clicks of me putting it down, she has brought it back to me. I toss it again. It takes two clicks to get it back. Then I put the leather dumbell down again, and she 2-clicks that back to me again and again. Once she sits with it in her mouth and I take it from her. Holy cow. Then I put out a small Flexi lead. She can’t figure out how to pick this up (I’m sure she could if it was supposed to be on the couch!) but knocks it around a lot. Then we work on the pen again a bit, and we quit. Holy cow.

I have two dreams about her. One is of her as a service dog, picking up everything we come across. The second is of her as a bumblebee, her tail going around like the propeller of a helicopter, as, head down, she buzzes through life.