I had to think about whether I wanted to tell this story or not, because it is full of dog handler FAILs. Those would be my fails. So here it is, because the training WINs and dog WINs outweigh my fails.
On Saturday morning, Axel and I were playing one of the pre-course recall games in the back yard. He did very well, especially considering that he’d just finished breakfast about an hour before. Handler FAIL: Since this game involved food rewards, we should have played before breakfast. After we were done, I released him to run around the back yard and “help” me pick up dog toys before the lawn maintenance crew arrived.
Unfortunately, while he was “helping” by grabbing a Jolly Ball and not bringing it to me, Axe spotted a jogger running past the front of the house and went to charge the gate. Handler FAIL: I know I shouldn’t let him do this, but I am always torn between wanting the dogs to ignore passers-by, or letting them go off on strangers in hopes that bad people will then bypass our property for one with no Rottweilers. I am right behind him, but a step too slow. He hit the gate, which shouldn’t have popped open, but it did. Homeowner FAIL: My husband and I try to remember to check the gates at least once a week to make sure the latches are closing and holding properly. Apparently neither of us did that recently enough.
Axe didn’t expect that either, but given the opportunity for freedom, he starts to go through the open gate. I call his name. He stops halfway through the gate and turns his head towards me. Just like he did for the game we’d just got done playing. Just like he was supposed to do.
I was not confident enough to wait to see if he’d keep coming back to me; I called “Axel, HIER” to make sure of it. And just like that, he was back where I could grab his collar, tell him he was a good boy, close the gate, and give him some play and love for not chasing the jogger and not turning into roadkill on the busy street we live on. Dog WIN. Susan Garrett recall course WIN. I honestly believe the reason he came back so quickly is because of the recall games we had just finished playing, and the games we had worked on during the week before.
(NaBloPoMo | August ’10: 2 of 31)