Aug 31, 2017 | Serra's Story

Beautiful misty morning – brisk cool breeze loaded with rain. A morning that made everybody feel like bouncing. Our usual once-around-the-pasture wasn’t enough, so we went around one more time. Spider wandered off into the middle following a trail – rabbit? badger? deer? coyote? raccoon? porcupine is a rare possibility. I’d have likely smelled it myself if it was a skunk. He was very brave, and kept an eye on us the whole time as we went around the outside.

When we’d done the second round, Stitch was ready to ride home, Spider wasn’t ready but I made him anyway, and Syn was just getting started so we went out on the (private) service road and let ‘er rip for another 2 km. I love to ride beside them when they’re flat out. I can hardly wait for Spike to be old enough and fit enough to let him put the pedal to the metal. Maybe when he’s three, eh?

Lunch was very successful. A large handful seems to be about the right amount of kibble to work a behaviour with. Enough to get somewhere, not enough to bore me or tire him out. There are six handful in a cup, which is his lunch, so six behaviours.

We began with volunteer sits – didn’t need any luring or other suggestions today, he was just into it. Moved on to using the word Sit when he was starting the behaviour, then started using the cue to ask for them. Very nice. I don’t have the patience (nor do I care enough) to insist on nice tidy tuck sits when he doesn’t have the muscle for them, so he gives me about half rock-back sits and half these sits:

In fact that’s exactly what he looks like. When we get to tuck sits, he’ll be physically ready for them and I’ll call them Park.

Then down. Not as good as sit but he’s pleased to lie down and he’s trying to figure them out. He’ll go down from sitting or standing on a signal, but he’s not volunteering yet and he doesn’t know the cue.

One handful for touch – he’s starting to figure out that he doesn’t need to touch my hand with his tonsils. He actually left a toothmark on my hand this morning during our saunter. He suddenly realized that an entire wiener was sitting on the console in front of him, so he ate it. I realized it JUST too late and reached down his gullet trying to retrieve it. He was still chewing and when I felt his cute little molar making the skin on my cheeks tingle, I pulled my hand out of his mouth and let him have it. It was too far gone to save anyway. Not his fault in any way. I’ve already had one finger almost amputated by a faultless Giant, I’ll eventually learn to make sure they’re awake and aware before I go doing things like that.

One handful for Zen – he’s getting very good at that. He came knowing No (when the wiener is already sliding down his throat, it’s a bit late for No), and we’re getting some nice duration and moving on to floor Zen.

Friend Debbie at Wizard of Paws suggests using a show stack and a bow to stretch his shoulders, so we started on the show stack. Next time I want to move his legs I’ll have him on the grooming table, he didn’t know what I was doing. He was perfectly willing to let me do it, but he had to look and it was awkward trying to reach around him on the floor. We had a good session of anchoring the back legs in one spot while his front end moved around them, a useful stacking skill. And he has a beautiful natural stack. The anchoring will encourage that and help teaching him to lean forward and knick flick (Conformation Stacking).

The final handful went to working on a bow. Hmmm. Maybe we should have worked on that before the down. It’ll be a while before he has the brain and muscle to figure this one out! We’ll keep working, though.