22 September 2010

Why I would never, ever, ever trade in Gustavo for the fancier model.

The very first time I saw Gustavo, he was with the dog rescue lady on a leash, trying to run free. He came running up to me, and I was smitten. He was just so bouncy wild and happy and looked like the fastest little dog I'd ever seen. I knew I wanted him. I think it was equal parts his sweet personality, and his little border collie body trying to make a break for it at 100mph with his patented weirdo roadrunner gallop. I'm pretty sure I had visions of an international agility superstar. Also he jumped on me and was licking my face and I'm totally a sucker for any dog that does that on our first date.

The dog rescue lady was more than happy to send him over. Even though he is possibly the friendliest dog in the universe, he was also an escape artist, and had 2 speeds only. Squirming around in your lap, or running away at 100mph. Sort of earmarked, perhaps not for normal pet home. From the streets of Mexico, straight to life on Team Small Dog.

There are probably a lot of things I would have done different with Gustavo training wise if I knew then what I know now about him. His mind tick tocks differently than any of the other dogs I've been involved with. He needs always more, always more, patient training than what I've done with him, and his first months with me should have been a lot more rigorous. So yeah. I guess in some ways I blew it. The likelihood of the 12" super champ I envisioned seeing him try to bust away that day on the beach, probably will forever loom out there on a misty horizon.

But the fact that I can keep trying, forever and ever, I love. When we practiced on Monday, he was totally laser focused on actual agility and touched down on all his running contacts and was madly acing every kind of weave pole entrance I threw at him. Flying over his teeter totters with me far away. Leaping onto the table and sticking that down every time. If you saw him, you'd say he was a champion. He was champion for a day. Most of the time, that dog can make me feel like the worst dog trainer ever. Monday, channeling Nancy Gyes out there and Susan Garrett and Silvia Trkman all rolled into one.

Until we were almost done and instead of blasting back into the xpen one more time he ran across the field to where I had last left Robot and started leaping on to the teeter totter over and over.

And not coming when I called. And called. And called.

And at least he doesn't hate teeter totters anymore.

And finally he did come back and blast in, with his signature style and flair.

Late at night, and early in the morning, Gustavo turns into a floppy stuffed animal. When he's sleepy, you can drag him around the house in your arms while he's in this weird twilight comatose state. You just sling him over your lap and you get all these warm fuzzies while he's pretty much out ala date rape roofie. I can make coffee with him tucked under one arm. How many agility champs can do THAT?

And any other time, when he's awake, he likes to sit at attention and stare into space at whatever it is he watches. Something he can see in the air. His own little movie screen, always set to the James Franco channel. I think he's just waiting for me to take him out to mingle with his public. He has no preference. Neighborhood kids, alzheimers patients at the old folks home, laborers waiting on the corner, old toothless guys with shopping carts, drug dealers, truck drivers. Doesn't make any which way. All his friends. Very BEST friends.

We work hard at training, me and Gustavo. Probably not hard enough. But for every freakout at a trial because There Are Weave Poles! or Lay Down on the Table! I can summon up what his face looks like when he's running around the laundry room in little circles, trying to show me where the dog food is on the shelf. Or when he comes over to where I'm sitting and looks up, then launches onto my lap in a not very athletic fashion, to settle in and go to sleep. And I know I wouldn't trade him in for any other dog in the world.


reddog said...

Not to mention that he's the cutest thing ever!

Elf said...

Awwww! [Snuffles] Now I'm thinking about all the things I like about my dogs and feeling bad for the times I'm so upset with or disappointed in them. This is a good reminder!

Amanda said...

Awww. There is something to be said for a dog that loves absolutely everyone! And he is super cute.

team small dog said...

Gustavo is the best dog. He ran awesome at Dirt Nite last night. There could never, ever be another Gustavo.