Tuesday, March 30, 2010

The Excellence of Boon

When our last obedience class commenced, I was not sure if Boon would be able to settle down enough to complete his commands: it had been two weeks since Boon had seen Pavi...at Pavi's arrival to class, Boon went crazy. He could not contain his excitement at seeing his little buddy.

After separating him from his beloved friend and using some creative measures to help him focus -- which included a few romps up and down the agility A-frame ramp -- Boon was ready to show himself competent in the obedience of commands such as Sit, Stay, Down, Leave It and Come.

Upon successfully completing all of his commands, Boon received his "Certificate of Excellence". Of course, this certificate did not tell us anything that we did not already know: Boon is definitely an excellent dog. Yet, his excellence runs much deeper than his ability to complete particular commands...it is seen in his daily sweetness, in the kindness that he willingly offers. On days that I am not feeling well, this is especially evident...as I lie on the couch, this ball-loving puppy will come and lie down beside me, longing to play ball, but somehow knowing that I do not have the strength that day. While Boon is working toward becoming an official therapy dog, his kind nature is already a source of therapy for me.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Boon's Favorite Class

Due to illness, Boon and I missed class #4, but we made it for our 5th class. When we showed up for class, we found that we were the only ones who were able to make it for week 5...this meant we had Jeanne, our wonderful trainer, all to ourselves. We had so much fun! Boon practiced walking on his leash, Leave It and Come. Boon also had the opportunity to show Jeanne his Retrieve and Release skills. Jeanne was very impressed that Boon could Stay until told to Retrieve a particular toy...that is a big accomplishment for a 7-month-old lab!

After Boon and I practiced each of his commands, Jeanne thought it might be fun to break out the agility equipment and see how Boon responded to it. At first, Boon was a little hesitant to go up the large, agility A-frame ramp, but after a little coaxing, he was going up and down the ramp with great ease. He wanted to play on the ramp...but learned that the ramp is off limits unless he is instructed to do ramp exercises.

Following a few ramp repetitions, Boon also had the opportunity to attempt a low-level agility jump: Boon was on one side of the jump apparatus, I was on the other side. Boon was told to Come and was supposed to jump over the apparatus as part of the Come process. Boon's first response was to try to go around the jump, but after a little practice, he was jumping over the apparatus to complete the Come. What a treat this was for Boon...it was definitely his favorite class!

Boon has one more week of obedience training and then will soon begin his Canine Good Citizenship training. He loved this agility work so much, I think we will plan to do some agility training after he completes the CGC training.

Monday, March 8, 2010

A Boon Act

Well, Boon has completed three obedience classes and he has three more to go. In week three, he continued to show improvement, but the whining was still an issue. It is hard for him to see the other two dogs and not be able to play with them.

In this third class, we worked on the Leave It command, added Down and also worked on sitting at a door/waiting to be released to exit through door. Since we first brought Boon home, we have worked on Sit, Down, Stay and Come, but it was good to have the opportunity to work on these things with an added element of distraction.

The leash pulling is getter better, but Boon still has some work to do in that department. My prize moment of the class started out as quite a blunder. Each of us were working individually with our dogs. To Boon's right, Pavi, the sweet, corgi/jack russell mix, was intently focusing on his owner. I was working with Boon, leash in one hand, bag of treats in the other: in a down moment, Pavi became Boon's focus, he lunged toward Pavi, wanting to give him a friendly sniff...the lunge pulled me off balance and all of Boon's treats scattered across the floor...I quickly told Boon to SIT and STAY...Pavi's owner and I swiftly began to pick up Boon's treats...and Boon, with all that wonderful temptation luring him to disobey, did exactly what he had been told - he sat and stayed! WOW! The trainer was quite impressed by Boon's act of obedience...and so was I.