Thursday, October 27, 2011

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Training Class 1

By Fred
Last week we had the first of our four training classes with Karen at the Southeastern Guide Dogs facility. As usual, Jam was pretty well behaved, obedient and attentive at the beginning of class, and then he gradually unwound and finally melted down altogether. Our other dogs tended to get better at the end of a meeting or class. But Jam consistently gets worse.

Of course, these classes are for the humans, not the dogs. The trainers are attempting to teach us what is infinitely more complicated than it seems: to effectively communicate with a dog. The basic concepts can be taught, like teaching a student how to paint with watercolors, but dog training is an art form that quickly gets into concepts that are difficult to express in words, like asking the student to "now paint something beautiful."

Anyway, after about 30 minutes of class (and to our great surprise), Jam started jumping very high into the air, like Snoopy doing his dance. Does he just have a short attention span? Is he being lazy or stubborn? Is he being intentionally sarcastic, ironic, silly? Does he feel under challenged, over challenged?

Or maybe he just wants to be a dancer?

Parents often find that a child has ambitions that are, well, unexpected. Too bad for Jam. Dance school is out of the question. He is going to obedience class because we are determined about his future: guide dog.

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