Saturday, August 25, 2007

I have failed

Or rather Isis has.

I don't know where I went wrong. I've been walking her every morning for a couple of weeks, throwing in practice commands all along the way. She's behaved well at home, even learning "Go to your crate" (cus that's where the treats are) and "let's go inside." She hasn't been racing around the yard until we catch her, but comes inside eagerly.

Yesterday I took her to my company picnic. It was a long drive and it was fun to have her in the car. We played on the beach while we waited for the ferry. She raced around me in circles in the sand while I transferred the leash from hand to hand behind my back.

She was well behaved at the picnic. Only made one child cry, with a lick to the face (no teeth), which really was the fault of the grandma who let the child's face get that close to my dog's. Then we went for a long hike. I felt so lucky to have a companion dog like her.

On the way back, I took her for another beach walk by the ferry terminal. This time, the beach was small, and surrounded by steep rocks and concrete walls. I thought to myself that probably I could let her off lead and she could run in the water, play in the sand, and surely she would come right back to me when I called, if for no other reason than she gets nervous in unfamiliar places.

Oh, if only I had attached her "light line." (A string that you clip to the training collar that you can use to stop a dog when off lead.) She did not come back to me when called, but instead raced around like a she-devil.

I won't mention the laws that I broke by having her off lead, and by not picking up her poop. (I know. I'm so ashamed. I was going to get a bag from my car and come back for it, but there wasn't time.)

I made several more errors in judgment in the next 10 minutes, none of which resulted in my dog getting hit by a car, but very well could have. I should have let her run around on the beach until I caught her, but I thought probably she wouldn't climb up the rocks by herself and if she followed me to them, she'd pause and I could catch her.

Wrong. She raced up the rocks and I think in front of the cars waiting to pay for the ferry. I couldn't see, because I was still on the beach. I could have tried calling her back to me on the beach, but instead, I thought maybe I could get her to walk with me to the car and jump in (because she does that without a leash all the time).

She raced in front of me dangerously, but there were no moving vehicles nearby, so we were OK. She started toward a woman standing near a railing and I called Isis back to me. Perhaps if I had let Isis run to her, she would have let the woman pet her long enough for me to grab hold of the collar. As Isis ran in my general direction, the woman looked apologetic, because I guess she had sort of called Isis to her. I said, "Oh, sorry, I didn't know if she was bothering you." And she said, "Oh no, I love dogs." Shoot. She could have been useful.

Then Isis weaved in between the parked cars, completely humiliating me as I tried, "Isis, come!" "In the car!" and luring her with a cookie. Finally, some other passengers helped me sort of box her in, and as I took her back to the car, a woman helpfully said, "You shouldn't have taken her off her leash."

Yes, thank you.

I have oft said that I never planned to take her out in public off leash anyway, but I guess having her in the off-lead class gave me the impression that it could be done. Clearly I'd made an error in judgment that I won't make again.

So todaaaay, we had a practice test. We will be missing the final test next week (Disneyworld), and I already planned to go through the whole 12-week course a second time. During the test, I was pretty surprised at how well she was doing, following commands and such. She got a perfect score on the "stand for examination," where she stands and lets the tester pat her down, without moving a foot.

By then, the leash was off, and little missy knows full well that when she doesn't have the leash on, if she gets farther than an arm's length from me, she's free as a damn bird. So she broke free and raced around the testing ring, letting out a few barks, pouncing playfully, picking up rocks in her mouth, chasing her tail. This happened a couple of times when I actually managed to catch her, and I was at the point where I didn't mind ending the test, but for some reason, we kept going. Finally, she broke away and ran behind the dog kennels to a big open field of grass. She raced and raced and picked up sticks and frolicked until finally, between the trainer and one of the other owner's children and me, we managed to catch her. I think it was the trainer saying, "Siiiit!" angrily that did it. Or maybe she was just good and ready.

In the real world, that sort of thing would get you tossed out of obedience trials, but in this kindly setting, it earned my dog a 60 out of a possible 200 on her practice test. I don't mind the failure so much as the sheer belligerence of it all.

The only reason I'm not taking her to the animal shelter right now is that our Halloween costumes arrived...

1 comment:

Quin said...

when she does this and you yell at her try to sound pissed, channel the sibling rivalry anger that you used to have when you and Andy would fight.

Once you get her make her lay down until you give her permission to get up.

You should see if there are weekend training programs where you anc pay just for the day. Instead of paying for another 12 week program. That way you can go once a month or just when you feel Isis needs a refresher.