15 November 2011

A day in which many of Gustavo's dreams really do come true.

It has been my experience in dog training that the more I train my dogs, the better they get. Ruby went from a feral wild animal into the freaking Mother Teresa of Dogs. Otterpop went from being a reactive, UPS truck chasing, attack dog into letting Roger pet her on the head the other day and becoming chill around other dogs and loud diesel engines.

Gustavo, on the other hand, is my downfall. Figuring him out is like I am plugging up holes in a dam slower than where the water is leaking out and all the time wondering is this dam going to burst or maybe I am just going to grow some new fingers and life isn't so bad, plugging stuff up all the time because I sure do like this dam, a-ok.

So while we were practicing yesterday, we were able to re-create his near suicide attempt of escaping out of the Steeplechase ring onto the freeway! Training opportunities like this are priceless, fabulous things of wonders for dog trainers that make us go all gushy with happy science thoughts. Except this time, the re-creation was way better than the actual incident since he actually did find a way to escape, and instead of a freeway with cars and trains flying by, on the other side of the escape hatch was one of his most favorite things-a cliff to jump off!

Right on creative thinking, little buddy!

AND, to make it even better, his escape attempt wasn't preceded by any stressful event like laying down on a cute little padded table for 5 seconds. Just like in Steeplechase over the weekend! Nope. Just a regular old day practicing, having fun with my well behaved pets and bingo, he spontaneously runs away and is out a tiny little rat sized fence hole in a flash.

I suspect he scoped this hole out last week during the Great Table Meltdown of Last Week. Maybe was afraid to use it that day, or was just saving it for a special occasion. Happy Monday!

So yeah. Out he went, selecting running away from his beloved me and beloved Otterpop and playing super fun time agility for jumping off the nearest cliff! But wait. Don't worry. Because we knew exactly how to handle this situation thanks to the power of TV!

First of all, I was able to use the recall which we practice a million times per day with him. So yeah, it didn't work as I saw him scoot out the hole and run for the cliff, but when I figured out how to get my non rat sized self out through a human sized escape hatch and look for where he had vanished to, it did work! Thanks, Susan Garrett videos of excellent recalling in dangerous situations! And actually Susan Garrett isn't even on tv but I get tv and internet confused and sometime forget which is which, Susan Garrett, Oprah, Susan Garrett, Oprah.

And just the other night, because you all watch the best zombie show ever, The Walking Dead, you know we all learned how to survive not only zombie attack but falling off a cliff AND being impaled on your own crossbow arrow. And how to extract it and and bandage your own wound and even fall off the cliff again and still be able to get back up the cliff with a giant bleeding arrow wound and hallucinations of childhood abuse only to minutes later be shot by one of your friends in the head by mistake. Clearly Gustavo was paying attention both during recall practice and zombie attack lessons because he made his way back up the cliff and to me and I did reward him with a piece of string cheese. I wasn't sure about that dog training wise. But he did come back. Yay. He would have been across the mountains by now if he hadn't.

And then I put him in the car because I was kind of freaked out and also kind of like, my suckiness of dog training is growing suckier by the day and I give up.

Luckily, the amazing Otterpop was nearby and we just went out and worked on really hard gambles. I set up the ones we didn't get at the dog show and of course she got them easy peasy so then I set up some even harder ones to add to her database and thank god for Otterpop. Otterpop used to be the worst dog in the world and now she can do insanely hard gambles in the privacy of her practice field and be a totally good dog that would never even consider squeezing out a rat hole to jump off a cliff, so hell. My dog training chops can't be that bad. I think?

So I got the Goo out of the car a little while later when the steam was no longer pouring out my ear holes and put him on his long line and we just went out to the field to hang out. No agility. Just rewarding for playing with me and looking at me, instead of using his laser hole radar to find new holes or do anything that wasn't hanging out with me. He seemed totally normal. Did some teeter totters even. Which are like best thing ever at the practice field although contraband at dog shows. Just for kicks and grins I went and got his new car crate out of the car. I got him a nicer crate to ride around in the car in recently, and he decided the devil lives there. I brought it out on the field, and wow! No devil crates on the field. Excellent space pod crate game sends and recalls and super fun fun joy times with devil crate. Even near the rat hole!

Just actin' like a normal trained dog again. Go figure.

So we had super fun fun crate love near the car! With it facing backwards in the car! No devils. The devil is apparently still in it facing the normal way in the car. And I am not a gonna try to figure this out. I am just going to keep putting my feet forward one at a time and life goes on. No dogs harmed in cliff jumping or in devil crates or hole escaping today. My job, to try to keep any of the above from actually causing harm and damage to my favorite little fella. Fingers in dam, leash on, peace out.


Amanda said...

I'm sorry Goo is being so, well, Goo-like. But I think he would be much worse off working with, well, anyone else, really.

Also, this? "And actually Susan Garrett isn't even on tv but I get tv and internet confused and sometime forget which is which, Susan Garrett, Oprah, Susan Garrett, Oprah." Made me laugh 'til I cried.

Merciel said...

I love you. I love your dogs. I love your blog.

I am sorry you had to deal with this craziness but glad you were able to keep your sense of humor and write about it so well. From someone who actually IS a terrible trainer: it's an inspiration to know the good ones feel this way sometimes too.

Anonymous said...

Random blog reader popping in to comment: you know, if Gustavo were a HORSE instead, you would not be beating yourself up about being such a supposedly bad trainer. You, and anyone watching who knew your history with him, would be impressed as anything that you're getting him to run well *most* of the time, and hanging in there thru the weird parts.

And really. Imagine if he WERE a horse. . Now see, dont'cha think you're really doing very well with him despite his occasional mental fireworks? :)

team small dog said...

If Gustavo were a horse and did stuff like escape out of the arena to jump off a cliff, probably he would have to go live with the cowboys for 6 months at buffalo boarding school.

Liz said...

You not only have dog training chops but the patience of Mother Teresa. Most people don't have either.

Keep on keepin' on.... I mean, what else could you do?

Anonymous said...

well, i'm impressed that you carried on with your training after retrieving him from the cliff. i would have spent the rest of the afternoon gathering tools and materials to fix the hole.