I participated in my first dog show last week. Stoked, because that was on my bucket list. Now I actually want to win. That is next! In the mean time, getting Sherlock ready is easier said than done.
He needs to be able to walk around the ring in a very handsome manner, with his head held high, in a good-lookin' strut. What he does, instead, is run around like a vacuum cleaner and inhale the floor as he goes around the ring. At least it's not a flop and refuse to walk like he was doing during training. But I have a hard time baiting him to look up, to be interested in me or at least the treat in my hand - he's a little scavenger! And well, I named him Sherlock. It suits him considering he likes to inspect and investigate everything with his best sensory faculties; his nose!
I got a stand/wait down ok, his stacking up could look better, but that comes with practice and handling. I'm so slow and clumsy - it all feels unnatural to me. I have a lot to learn too.
But if I don't give it a shot, then how do I expect to learn? Nobody is ever going to walk up and give me an opportunity. No one ever has. Not a lot of people have confidence in me, most of them wonder what the heck I'm doing to begin with. I'm thankful for the breeder and my friends in the dog-show world who take the time to show me and welcome me there.
So I have a couple of "show-and-gos" to take Sherlock to so we can practice, as well as some leash work at home. I'm sure it'll be natural to him in no time.
On the other hand, Aspen is being a pretty good girl. She's listening more, less dog apprehensive, and more of a cuddle-bug (if that's even possible). She can also catch treats in the air and it's one of her favorite tricks! She is a master at sit, and recently I've been able to coax her to a down position with a treat - something she refused to do before! She is so patient with the kiddos, specially when Caleb pulls up her lip to look at her teeth - though I deter him from doing that, he's now fascinated by incisors since his just came in... and he noticed Aspen has them too (but hers are bigger)!
Of course, it's not fun when both dogs got into something and they have an upset stomach... and I'm cleaning up the kennel. Not fun at all. And it's not fun to walk them in the winter when I'm waiting for them to go potty and it's 25 degrees. And I'm freezing. And the poor dogs get bored and want to play outside but I can't stand being out there as long as they want to be and I don't leave my dogs (or my kids, for that matter) out in the yard unsupervised. That's where it takes work.
However, finding the quiet time and energy to STUDY without interruption runs thin between time with the dogs and time with the kids, and housework, and actual work, and fish... etc, etc... so it's usually some Sunday afternoons when Paul is home, as well as after 10pm at night on weekends once the kids go to bed.
So now it's the challenge of finding balance. And it's tough because I can't work with Sherlock if he feels me tense; he knows I'm agitated and anything I do or say scares him more than encourages him. It's AMAZING how dogs can sense your blood pressure and even if you fake it with a smile, they are not fooled. At all.
In fact, the other day Anakin (my oldest son) was in trouble for misbehaving at school. And after he was disciplined he was laying on the sofa, completely dejected. Aspen zoned in on him like a hawk! She was next to him, licking his face, rubbing her head into him... and Anakin was too upset to notice, but she knew there was something wrong with him a mile away.
Or the way Sherlock will jump into my lap when I plop on the recliner and I don't feel good. And he lays down and looks at me with these adorable brown eyes and these huge ears that say, "It's ok! We love you! It'll be ok!"
And my kids do it too. But they have the gift of language and can articulate their emotions. I find it awesome when the dogs can pick up on our emotions and share their emotions with us - notice the slightest change in our facial expression, tone of our voice, or beating of our heart.
But I love it! I wouldn't have it any other way. It is part of who I am. It's in my DNA. Ask my parents! My earliest memories involve dogs and cats and birds and lizards and all sorts of animals that I cared for, played with, and rehabilitated. I just stopped pushing it aside and embraced it. It will be ok.