Friday, June 6, 2008

What part of me is reflected in that chicken-chasing face?

This is her, Miss Bloo Luna.  Good dog, Bad dog, All dog.She is 68+lbs of power and speed and exuberance.  The only thing she does half-way is leave the cat alone.

And I say there is nothing like a little "dog training" to wake me up!

Approximately two weeks ago, my daughter and her daughters, were in my studio and I saw out the window Luna sneak-sliding through the neighbor's bamboo gate with chickens on her radar.  "OH GOD!" I scared everyone within hearing range, and yelled at my daughter (sorry!), "Hang on to Pie!"  As I write this I realize there are times that I make absolutely no sense whatever. Apologizing for that will do no one any good because I am not sure there is anything that I can do about that.

I flew as fast as I can go, out the back door, across the lawn, out the gate which was open and hence-forth the dog out, across the lane, into the bamboo, through the neighbor's yard and garden to the chicken coop where Luna already was into the delirious activity of trying to catch flying, flapping, shrieking Banties.  I yelled something like "STOP!" to which she looked up (hey, that was a 'teaching-moment' had I known what to do).  Unfortunately the chickens flew out the door and Luna went into pursuit hot on the tail of a rooster.  This all was mortifying and awful.  

Having grown up on a dairy I have an ingrown-toenail kind of belief that chicken-chasing-bad-dogs are ultimately going to wind up on the wrong end of some body's rifle-sight.  Not to mention that anyone who's dog is that kind of dog is, by association or something no better than the rotten dog.  

And to complicate things even more, I really like this Bloo Luna dog.  

After she figured out that chasing chickens was going nowhere (I was closing-in on her), Luna decided to run off to Bob's.  Bob lives directly behind us, and thank God, has a gate that functions.  Meat Pie is always at Bob's when she has been bad and run off.  Thank God we all share these yards and 3 acres.  I closed the gate like I always do, and commenced catching the dog who ran away from me again and only slowed down when I said, kind of like a command, "BAD DOG!" Luna fell into a collapsed sad dog way under Bob's pick-up, out of reach.  At this point my 7 year old granddaughter Mary came through the gate, and Luna raced to her and sat down and Mary took hold of her collar.  Done.  

And Bob told me that he doesn't trust her, that she jumped Chili, and she has a Pit Bull face.  

So, yesterday we had Training.  We used the 'pinch collar' and walked properly.  We practiced 'sit' and 'stay.'  We walked down the lane past the feral cats in the brush, the multitudes of fowl, the sheep, more chickens and the horses with foals.  I was sweating nervously.  The Trainer took the leash occasionally, and coached Wayne and I.  Then we switched Luna to the Long Line.  The Trainer (Wade the Miracle) told me to drop the line.  My life flashed before me.  How would I explain to three different neighbors the chaos which would be sure to follow such a stupid act?  "Are you sure?  Are you going to jump on it?"  I envisioned stomping furiously while 30 feet of Long Line flashed beneath my feet at the speed of light as Luna streaked into any pasture available, to the left or right or straight ahead, madly destroying all living creatures.  "I will catch her if I need to," WTMDT said calmly.  I dropped the Line, "Call her to you and keep walking," were my insane instructions.

I dropped the Line and she stood there in the middle of the road, dumb-struck.  The Long Line had her completely baffled.

We continued on.  Luna adapted to the long leash dragging behind her.  She was alternatingly confused and obedient.  She did what was asked of her.  She seemed to understand.  She didn't even try to chase the livestock.  She took to/accepted the corrections.  And then we returned to the yard and went around to the scene of the criminal chicken chasing.  She was attentive in the wrong way (like, where are they??) and so was corrected.  I was taught how to command, "Down, Now." and had to practice.  I was taught how to get her down (a pretty cool trick), and then I was instructed to walk her to the chicken coop,  asking of her at each threshold, "Down, Now" and she did it with only a few times being 'forced.'  And when we arrived, it took us about ten minutes to go about 50 feet, she lost all of her new lessons and wanted to lunge at the coop and I had to use all my strength to restrain her.  This is where WTMDT took over.  He worked with her at the door, and then opened the coop and took her inside.  She was still hoping, maybe, that she would get to chase.  Not possible.  Wade worked with her, which was intense. Not mean in any way.  He was calm, and made it very clear what was expected of her, and showed her that he very much was/is boss.

It seemed that she was very over the chicken-thing.  

And I am committed to working with her every day.  She is responsive and intelligent.  I have not been consistant, especially through these past few months of no-energy.  The Long Line is an amazing tool, and she may just wear it when ever I feel that she may be tempted to stray.  I do not know if she is "cured" of chicken chasing.   I am not really into experimenting with that, I just am going to focus on consistant training.  How unlike any of the work I am doing is that?

Discipline is bringing focus and repitition to something that I desire to grow/have/be in my life.  I pull weeds out of the beans because I want lots of beans.  I pray because I am a changed woman from prayer.  I meditate because when I do clarity shines into my life.  I work with Luna because she is worth every minute of it, and she and I may just up-root that ingrown-toenail belief that serves neither one of us.


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