You are never given the dog you want, but the dog you need.

Some Things Don’t Go As Expected…

Good morning all!

As promised, I’m starting my dog sports series and today kicks it off in a way. We’re starting this series off with some dog obedience!

Today will be a little introduction to it, a few of my own stories with Disney from years past and then tomorrow will be the slightly more dry, but hopefully still interesting, run down of Obedience. I’ll go over the different titles you can earn, exercises that you go through, and whatever else I can think of to add in.

Personally, I love obedience trials. Most people see it as a rigor mortis, stiff, and unyielding kind of sport, but really- that couldn’t be further from the truth.

Yes, it is true that it requires a high level of discipline for both you and your companion. But, it’s also true that through this level of discipline, a deeper bond than you could have ever imagined possible is forged between you and your dog.

As I mentioned in my Agility post so long ago, you and your furry companion begin to synch up and become in tune with one another in ways that you could never even imagine. There comes a point where the smallest body language signals relay a whole reel of commands and your dog knows exactly what you want him/her to do.

That point right there- it’s magical.

But it does take work.

Without dedication and hard work (we’re talking hours upon hours of training, reinforcement, and run throughs), this level will be out of your reach. But I promise you, stick with your trainings and you and your buddy will be without compare to all that know you.

Now, I know that this isn’t helping me refute the idea that obedience is all about strict discipline, but stick with me and I’ll give you a little insight.

Despite all this, and despite all the training you might do with your pup…does not mean you’ll sail through with flying colors. Oh no. Your pal is still very opinionated about what they do or, more often the case, do not want to do that day.

More trials than I can count have ended with the handler throwing their hands up in frustration or simply laughing by the end. All because their four legged pal decided that today was just not the day where they wanted to listen. Goodness, I’ve had more of those than I care to admit.

While each of them are amusing to look back on, the frustration you feel the first few times is pretty…interesting. Imagine- you’ve spent countless hours training for this one trial and in an instant…all those points are gone. You’re left without a scoring place and your dog could care less. So. Frustrating.

But, you learn from it and you learn to laugh at the situation.

I’ve got a story to share with you guys about this exact kind of situation. It’s amusing, I promise. To me at the time, not so much, but now? Hilarious.

So, I’ll set the stage for the story: Disney and I were in our final showing year together in 4-H and had made it all the way to the State Fair in Obedience, Agility (although I didn’t show in this one), and Showmanship. We’ve done our run in the ring for Showmanship and we’re waiting our turn to take the ring for Obedience.

I’ve got my number banded on my arm and Diz and I are doing a quick run through. He’s listening perfectly, button ears at attention and following every signal I give him.

The judge signals us into the ring.

I signal Diz to sit where the judge places us, and unclip his leash. The judge takes it from us and asks the usual, “This is your Heel exercise, offleash. Are you ready?”

I glance down at my old man and see that he’s watching me, so I look up to the judge and nod. “Yes, ma’am.”

She calls out the first command, “Forward!” and I spare Disney a glance.

“Disney, Heel!”

On my first step, everything went to pot. Did he follow me?

Nope.

I ran the whole Heel exercise. By myself.

He sat there and watched me, tail wagging the whole time. Little brat…

So, the judge gives the final halt command and what does he do as I stop? He runs over to me from across the ring and sits perfectly by my side.

I was in disbelief.

Next exercise, the Figure 8: Offleash, was one of the two exercises that went well.  After that, we had the Moving Stand exercise. The judge signals us to start the stand and I silently drop my hand in front of his nose and he freezes- just like he was supposed to. I continue without him to the other end of the ring and the judge goes over him. I call him to me and he finishes like a pro.

Now, I was thinking that we might have a chance to redeem ourselves here. Was this silly of me?

Yup.

Final exercise before the stays comes up and I place him in a sit next to me. At the judge’s signal, I tell him to “wait,” and head to the far end of the ring.

I get the signal to call him and he comes at his usual happy clip, but his tail isn’t wagging like usual. That was a big tip off that this wasn’t going to be as planned. At the command, “Drop your dog” I give him the normal hand signal-palm turning from face up to face down in a backwards N motion.

Luckily, he stopped within the required number of steps. But what does he do? He turns completely around and lays down. Back facing me. His head pointed towards the exit.

Did I mention I only fed him half his food before the ring? Because that’s probably what started this little vendetta. I just didn’t want him messing in the ring…He got the rest after all was said and done, as planned, no worries there.

So, the judge and I, along with the rest of the crowd are staring at my boy with a mix of shock and amusement. Shock on my part, amusement on everyone elses.

Why was I shocked? Well, probably because I had only ever trained him with hand signals for most exercises, including this one. I had no choice but to use a vocal command, something I wasn’t even sure he would listen to at this point.

He glances back at me with what can only be described as a bratty kind of look and trots towards me after a moment, skips the front sit and goes straight into heel.

So much for that exercise…

The Stand stay was okay until the end when I returned after the minute stay and then he decided to move around. There go those points too…

The sit stay, he laid down for three minutes.

The Down stay was the worst though, and also the most amusing. Apparently, he popped up as I left the ring/ building and went out of sight (all stays minus the Stand were out of sight) and then stood stock still. For FIVE minutes.

The judge and crowd were in stitches by the end of it.

All I could do was shake my head and laugh a little as I released him from his stay. The judge informed me that he had stood there for the full time. He had stood right as I left the building, tail wagging. Only when he looked at the other dogs, still patiently lying in place, did the tail slow and slowly droop until it was aimed at the ground and he stared at the ground until we all came back in.

Then he started wagging. Of course…

So, there you have it. Proof that Obedience isn’t all stuffy and dull. It has its moments of humor and craziness, Disney showed me that quite wonderfully. So, in the end, you never know exactly how things will turn out, but you’ll still have a fun time.

I’ll wrap this up though, since it’s rather long.

Don’t forget to click the FreeKibble link in the side bar and feed some hungry animals and stay tuned for the Obedience post that should be up for tomorrow!

Have a great day!

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One response

  1. My person says Disney is probably better behaved than me. I’m not sure what she’s talking about.

    March 19, 2012 at 1:05 pm

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