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Friday, April 24, 2009

We've been home about 5 days now from our Spring Break trip to Florida and while we are pretty much back into routine as a family, I still haven't found that rythym with my dogs. I always miss them terribly when we leave them (which is only about once a year, but so good and necessary to do for all of us), I can't wait to get home to them, and I am always fired up with new ideas and thoughts on training (especially when I spend my vacation reading training books!) -- but now I'm home and can't seem to find the right time and place to train/play with them.

It really showed last night at the first session of Puppy Class. I got Daisy out to play with the puppies (she is so good with them -- she plays so nicely and has great canine communication skills) and when Daisy figured out that one of the handlers had treats she was willing to share with her, Daisy would have gladly gone home with her! It was like I didn't exist. I have no one to blame but myself -- we've snuggled a lot this week, but that's about it. I didn't take her to school, I didn't train with her at all, I don't think we even did any tricks! Dogs love to work and play and Daisy, even being the couch-potato she can be, is no exception. To maintain our relationship and our bond, it's just like human/human relationships, we need to work on it. Since I am the human and the leader, it's up to me to do that. In thinking back over the week, there were many times Daisy was communicating to me that she wanted to do something with me and I ignored it. Definitely "handler error" and something I intend to work on this weekend and next week. I want to go to Puppy Class next week with my dog having eyes only for me!

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Lifelong Learning

I have long told my students and fellow dog handlers that dog training is a "work in progress" the dog's entire life for both the handler and the dog. I truly believe that and try to live that. We currently have an elderly, retired police K-9 German Shepherd dog at home. Every day is a new chapter in our life with him as he ages -- he's losing his sight, his hearing is mostly gone and his body is aging. We are learning ways to keep him healthy, comfortable, and how to communicate with him. It's truly a privilege to be blessed with such a good dog and to have him for so long is above and beyond what we expected. We are thankful for every day we still have him with us.

I have been studying to take a dog trainer certification exam -- something I have put off for a few years mostly because I wasn't sure where I would find the time. But I'm so glad I took the plunge and decided to MAKE the time -- preparation and studying has started off great! I have an awesome study partner and the books are wonderful! I am currently reading "The Culture Clash" by Jean Donaldson and "Don't Shoot the Dog" by Karen Pryor. Wow! I am learning some great new things and reviewing and reinforcing many things I already knew. I am excited about the future and possibilities it holds and can't wait to share all this information with my next class. (Check out for class info.)

I am taking Spring Break off this year. We are going to enjoy our family's company and relax before we jump into a new set of classes and all the craziness that is Spring at our house. Have a Blessed Easter!!! He is Risen!!!