Small Miracles are All Around Us

Walking to training class today, I was thinking to myself about how Darcy was never going to graduate.  And how it’s a huge bummer because she is very good at home.  She listens like… maybe 70% of the time and she’s great at her commands.  But she won’t perform in class and they’re never going to believe me when I tell them she  listens.

However, when we got to class, a miracle happened.  Darcy sat on command.  She listened to her name.  She laid down while I stood up (since clearly we both had to lay down for learning purposes.) She stayed.  She attempted to heel.

Today – my little dog GRADUATED OBEDIENCE 1!!!

IMG_5052

When the instructor made the announcement I said “Stop! Are you serious?!  I never thought we would graduate!”  Demonstrating strong confidence in my dog’s abilities.

Mutual thrill level

Mutual thrill level

As a reward we bought a duck foot treat.  She didn’t put it down the whole walk home.

IMG_5035

Therapy Dog Certification – we’re so close!! Just a lot of more steps to go!

Advertisements

Therapy Dog: 101

Yesterday was Darcy’s first Obedience 101 training.  I was so excited.  I figured by the time we walked out of her first class she would know how to do back flips and speak French.  It was going to be fantastic.

The entire class was a nightmare.  My dog, who lives on a strict diet of treats, more treats and the occasional meal, wouldn’t even acknowledge the beef liver and chicken scratch bribes I brought for her.  She acted like she’d never heard her name.  She wanted to smell the equipment, she wanted to growl at the other dogs, she wanted to lick the floor.  I have a lot of nightmares, but this was one I wasn’t waking up from.

It was the longest and shortest hour of my life.  Longest because I couldn’t control her but shortest because I kept waiting for things to click in her mind until all of the sudden class was over.  It was exhausting – emotionally for me, and physically for Darcy, who had me carry her the whole way home.

I was distraught.  My dreams of my two footed, three and a half legged therapy dog had been dashed.  I’ll always have to pay for her to fly on an airplane.  She’ll never be welcomed into a restaurant.  Hospital patients will have a restraining order against her.  How will she ever inspire babies born with abnormalities or military amputees? That was going to be the plot of my third book!

She stared at me like this until I picked her up.

She stared at me like this until I picked her up. Great smile though…

This morning I thought I would give it one more shot.  The training place was lucky that since I had already bought a package of five (cough – ten) classes, I have to go back.  And I don’t want to be that girl with the dog who doesn’t graduate.  We may be Queens of Mediocrity, but we are not failures!

So we gave it a try.  And lo and behold, Darcy is a genius.  She knew the hand motions for sit immediately.  She remembered her name! After a decent amount of practice, she mastered “down.”   When my dog is at home and not distracted and when she is being showered with treats and praise she is literally the smartest dog on the planet.  I cannot be more thrilled.  Don’t worry child hospital psychiatric wards – we are on the way!