18 May 2010

The time when running contacts opened up the floodgates to hell and is that possible, actually?

Lest my chipper post about the greatness of running contacts and my prowess as a trick trainer leads you astray about what really goes on here at the Team Small Dog Training Center, I think I should tell you about yesterday's training session with Gustavo.

And the day before's. Just keeping it real. A real mess, to put it bluntly.

Aw, it's not that bad. It's just the way it goes sometimes, just when Gustavo and I think we have something all worked out, going swimmingly, there's always some kind of sardine in the ointment that spreads the ointment out all over somewhere you didn't really want it, and upside down. And it's sticky. And stains. And smells like sardines. But you know, at least you have your ointment. And a bonus sardine. Sums up how training Gustavo goes - in a sardiney, ointmenty, nutshell.

So we have to go back in time here, back a few days to our driveway running contact plank. We've been working on running contacts for a couple weeks now, I'd like to say we've done approximately 20 sessions, on either a real genuine dogwalk plank, or on a faux dogwalk plank in our driveway. These have almost all used our friend robot, and a correct contact yields a chirpy "BEEP" and robot throws out a treat.

Gustavo hasn't had a lot of misses, but he has had at least one miss in every session as the board has gone up. When there's a miss, I just call out, "Try again!" and he comes running back up the board.

Until 2 days ago.

His first miss, he ran to beepless robot, looked for his treat, and instead of scampering back up the board, he proceeded to pee on the nearest shrub, and turn tail and licketdy split run away to the neighbor's house, home of Evil Nemesis Pistachio the Cat. Pistachio either wasn't home, or was hiding, and I had to stalk Gustavo down and corner him. We were both mortified, and I was also mightily pissed off. Never, ever had running away out the driveway occurred to him in all our years of Team Small Dog Training Center of Laura's Driveway.

Never say never.

So fast forward in time to our Monday Forest Agility practice session. We have the dogwalk plank set up on a little stool, we are very pleased to be running it at about knee high. Gustavo was wired, in one of those moods where he's bordering on frantic, but will do anything to make that robot BEEP. And does one, good leaping miss off the plank and no BEEP.

And, instead of his customary scamper scamper scamper back to the top to try again, promptly pees on a cone and runs away. And I have to go stalk him down. And in the car he goes. And I go wash off the cone. (Sorry about that, Kathleen! OMG!) That was a first.

My non agility friends, do you know the cardinal sin of dog agility? Thou better not pee on the agility field or it's obstacles!

He spends some time in car jail, the other dogs have some Normal Dog turns, he comes back out, and runs his plank great, runs back up every time, and if there was a miss, there was no more weird pee and bail.


Later in our practice, he decided that the chute was clearly the gateway to Hell and wouldn't go in the chute for the life of him. The teeter totter, similarly poisoned.

Um. K. Thanks. Bye.

Addendum, when we got home, he sat and stared at a piece of blue fuzz on the floor until I made him stop because it freaks me out when he does that.

So there. Life goes on. Hola and out!


tundrah said...

Oi. Thought we don't have any sort of fuzz-staring-issues around here, aside from that it sounds like Gustavo has been reading Forest's diary. "Uh, so today I ran away from Mom and peed on lots of things I shouldn't have. No agility stuff but pretty much everything else in my path. All in all, a successful day." Ugh. Trust me, if anyone knows the feeling, I do.

Lynn Ungar said...

Even if I weren't interested in agility I would read your blog just for the pleasure of paragraphs like the "sardine in the ointment" one.

To the people who say that there is nothing your dog should be chastised for in agility, I say that you have never had a boy dog who wanted to leave his mark on the agility world in the canine, rather than human, sense. Luckily, for Taz's version of this problem there was a surgical solution.

Unknown said...

This is another example of what I've been saying for years...dogs have a wicked sense of canine humor that says just when you think you know them and everything they're about, they throw a change-up on you. They just let you THINK you're in control, but they will always keep you on your toes and guessing what possibly could be around the corner, or in this case, at the end of the plank.

team small dog said...

Yeah, the peeing on something was a new one. Super idea, Gustavo! Definitely always working to stay one step ahead of me. At least one. Actually, way more than one.

Me and TSD are one big, happy, creative thinking, yet simultaneously dysfunctional family. With a member who invented spontaneous peeing when his robot doesn't hand over a cookie.

ViewFr4Inch said...

Maybe he thinks robot is subordinate, and that when it doesn't cough up a treat it needs to be shown who's the boss. By marking.

I have the original Sir Marksalot here, and he uses his little peeshooter to settle all kinds of problems.

Gosh darn little squirt!