Saturday, July 30, 2005

Graduation Day


Last week Gumbo "graduated" from his Beginner Obedience-I class at Ouachita Valley Dog Training Club (OVDTC). The class focused on the basics: sit, down, come, heel, etc. Luckily Gumbo pretty much knew how to do these things, but what I was after was "structured learning." You see, Gumbo does well when there is a set agenda. It's part of the "work-a-holic" nature bred into border collies as well as many other dogs. Gumbo needs a "job" to do and training in obedience and agility is part of his job. He loves it so.

After 8 weeks of training and practicing, the big night came. The class, consisting of 12 dogs, all participated in a mock obedience trial. The format and scoring was identical to the AKC Novice trial, but the rules were pretty relaxed. At this level, the OVDTC wants all the dogs to be successful. Most of the participants were there to make their dogs better companions and to minimize any problems when others beside family members interact with their dog. So we were encouraged to talk to our dogs and give treats if needed. This was just for "funnzies" anyway.

We all drew numbers from a hat to determine the order which we had to perform (we drew #5) our individual exercises - heeling on lead, figure 8, sit for exam, and recall. The dogs were lounging around, while the owners milled about, nervous as whores in church. I was hoping my nervousness wouldn't be relayed down the length of the leash.

We all got through our individual exercises, and the group exercise commenced. A one-minute sit while the owners faced their dog, followed by a two-minute down, with the owners facing the dog again. I was dreading this. Gumbo can be a strong-willed dog. I just knew he wouldn't stay down for two minutes. But he did.

So at the end of it all, Tanya, the judge, gave out prizes for the top four highest-scoring dogs. Gumbo came in second with a score of 194 (out of 200 possible points.)

Some other notable dogs in the class were Rocky the German Shepherd, Brett the Golden Retriever, Rhett the Australian Shepherd (who came in first with a score of 196!), Lilly the German Shepherd, Bear the Border Collie (who on day one didn't like ANY other dog, but ended up being tolerant of his K-9 pals at the end) and Cletus the 137-pound Bloodhound, who drug his female owner all over the ring while he bayed virtually the whole time, every class. You knew Cletus was in the building and I'm sure Cool Hand Luke is still running!

So we made it. I am so proud of Gumbo! Gumbo has matured into a wonderful, dyed-in-the-wool (no pun intended!) border collie. And second place is pretty good. After all, he came in dead last in his puppy obedience class way back when. And on the way home he got the best reward of all - his favorite treat, an ice cream cone.


But Gumbo's ready for more work. He and Roux start a new set of obedience classes next week. We'll keep ya posted.

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Hey Gumbo..."Way to go..."
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