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My “little boy” (Bear) graduated from Obedience School!
To catch those of you who haven’t been following my blog since Bear joined the family … Bear is our newest family member. He came from a very loving home when he was almost a year old. As I said, his former family loved him, but they had three young children and Bear was still a very rambunctious boy. He loved to run and jump – in other words, he was a German Shepherd puppy! (I have to add here that Bear STILL is very much a puppy. Only his body has grown up.) His former people knew that he needed to be able to run and play and to keep him leashed or crated in order to keep him from knocking very young children over was just not fair. They loved him enough to allow us to adopt him. We have a large, fenced yard and another German Shepherd Dog for him to play with.
We had just lost our beautiful, white German Shepherd Dog, Chief, to cancer, and we were all (including our dog, Sydney) heartbroken. Bear was just the tonic we all needed to start mending our hearts. He’d been to “puppy school” and knew some commands, but his natural exuberance made it hard for him to concentrate.
Earlier in the year, Bear and Sydney both started Obedience School at Attaboy Dog Training. Due to a freak accident that cost Bear most of his tail, we had to pull the dogs out of class. To be fair, our much older dog, Sydney, never was too thrilled with school. I was delighted to find out that Bear could join the most recent class to finish out his training during the final three weeks of the standard course.
Bear had learned to master the “A-frame” and the “elevated walk” during his training in the spring, but we were concerned he might have forgotten how to get over them. He’s not always been the most confident dog and obstacles had concerned him a bit in the past.
I was so proud when he remembered how to go over them.
For some reason, the tunnel was never frightening, so he took right to that again.
Saturday, October 13 was Graduation Day. There were eleven other dogs in class with us so we had enough to play “doggie games.” The first was Tic-Tac-Toe with dogs. Half the group was “sitters” and half was “downers.” The idea was to take a square by getting your dog to either sit or lay down and stay there. If a dog got out of its prescribed position, it had to leave the board. As you can guess, much confusion and hilarity ensued. Come to think of it, I don’t think we ever actually finished that game.
We played “Musical Mats” (a take on musical chairs). The idea here was to walk in a big circle and when the music stopped rush to a vacant mat and get your dog to sit. Each round, the last to get to a mat and sit was eliminated. I have to say that all the dogs were very well behaved during this game. Some of the humans, on the other hand, seemed to think they were playing hockey and were almost body-checking each other off the last mat. Again, it was all very good-natured and the dogs seemed to find their humans rather comical.
Another game was “Sit/Stay.” The idea here was to get your dog to sit and stay while all kinds of distractions were passed around them. Distractions included the trainer walking around with squeaky toys, rolling balls, clapping, and moving in erratic ways. As each dog stood, it was eliminated from the game. German Shepherd Dogs, generally, have an innate need for structure. Confusion and distraction are not easily tolerated. They are herders. They want things to be calm and in their proper place. That’s why I was so incredibly proud that Bear was the last dog sitting. He noticed the distractions, but he kept his focus on me and won the game. Way to go, Bear!!!
So, my boy has now graduated from Obedience School. We both really had a great time and I think it’s very good for us to have a structured class together. I think the next step will be a course coming up later in the year (or the first of the new year) which is “Agility for Fun.” I don’t think that Bear will ever be one to compete, and I know I’m not in shape for that at this point, but a class that has fun as the objective seems right up our alley. I know Bear also enjoys being around other people and dogs. (We are so blessed that he’s so gregarious and sweet-natured.) With the weather we generally get during the winter, this would be a great way for us both to be able to get out with other dogs and dog-people.
Up Next: Working for a Legend