13 Weeks 1 Day- Grooming

Oct 8, 2004 | Stitch's Story

I want to totally change the subject. I’m so excited about retrieving I think I’m going to push her too hard.

We go to the dog room. I put her on the grooming table. This is a pretty scary event, she crouches down and hangs on to the table. I start feeding her one kibble at a time. After 20, I lure her into a stand, keep feeding, and start placing her feet, holding her tail, and stretching her up in a show stack. She remembers not to move her feet and does very well with this, so we start working a bit on more dynamic show stacking. This is a bit harder, she’s still a bit unsure of the table and would like to stay right in the middle of it, thanks, but she manages to start swinging from right to left with her front paws while leaving her back paws stacked.

Then I ask her to lie down. Can’t do it. OK, I pick her up, fold up her legs, and put her back on the table in a down. Start feeding her again. Oh, hey, this feels safer than standing up! She can do this! When her tail starts wagging as she waits for each piece of kibble, I lure a stand again. That’s easy. Then a down. That’s easy too! Of course she could do it before, silly. She just didn’t feel like it at the time…

Since she’s feeling pretty good about the whole experience, I turn on the clippers (2-speed, on low) and start petting her with them as we finish up her breakfast. No trouble at all. She glances back at the clippers once or twice, then shrugs and gets on with breakfast.

When we run out of kibble, I get a spoonful of peanut butter and spread it on one corner of the table. When she’s well engaged in it, I start shaving her butt again, and down her back legs. No problem whatsoever until we run out of peanut butter, then she starts whining, but still not fussing about the clippers. I wait until she quiet for a moment, turn the clippers off, pick her up, have a snuggle, and put her down. I’ve done a very bad job of clipping, but a very good job of her first real grooming.

Having a naked rear end is considerable more traumatic than having it shaved. It’s several minutes before she realizes she can walk with no hair on her back legs.

Scuba jumps up and polishes the peanut butter off the table.

I have to drive Ron out to the field so I take Stitch. Ron drives out and I cuddle her. When we get there, we go for a walk on lead, run around and giggle a bit, then she sits in my lap while I drive back to the yard. Not entirely comfortable, but much more relaxed this time. It’s nice to see something that needs to be more clearly explained, and then see the puppy believing the explanation.

Working two dogs at once

The three of us invent a great game for lunch. Scuba, as I’ve said before, has a poor understanding of Sit (MY version means planting the butt and leaving it and the feet in the same place for as long as necessary. HER version means planting her butt until she gets tired of it and lies down, or thinks it might be better to offer me something else). So I put Stitch’s towel across the room on my left, and Scuba on a Sit-Stay on my right. Then we play Chutes & Ladders stays. When both are in position, I toss a kibble at Stitch. If Scuba remains in position, I take a kibble from her bucket and give it to her. If Stitch is back in position, 2 kibbles. If Scuba’s still in position, 2 kibbles. If Stitch is back in position, 3 kibbles. If Scuba’s still in position, 3 kibbles. And so on. I toss or give the kibbles one at a time, so giving 3 takes three times longer than giving one, thus we increase the stay time by one kibble each round. Once, after chasing a kibble which bounces too close to Scuba, Stitch forgets what makes the kibble happen, sits beside Scuba and offers Sit and Stare. I feed Scuba one kibble at a time until Stitch runs back to her towel and lies down, then we go on with the game.

The most interesting part of this whole meal was that it’s Scuba who restarts the count EVERY TIME.

Woo hoo! At supper I finally let myself go back to retrieving. She runs to and picks up the wooden dumbbell, leather dumbbell, metal dumbbell, pen, and 1/3 cup metal measuring cup. Interesting – tonight the metal dumbbell is just another dumbbell, but the pen takes her some time to figure out. Once she works out that she can pick it up by hooking the right-side canines under it and then toss it back to hold it behind ALL the canines, she’s comfortable with it.

Tonight I can afford to let her drop the articles a few times to be sure I’m clicking her for a solid hold and not for flinging or dropping. She sticks with it, picking each item up again if she drops it before I click. What a great day!