February 24, 2015

White Dog was out walking in the yard with her youngest sibling. I could see Zsofia trying VERY hard to be serious and listen to the advice WD, our most educated White Dog, was giving. When they came in, Steve harnessed up the Baby and gathered the paperwork we needed. The White Dog Army wished her luck and WD nuzzled her face, saying, "Just don't embarrass us."
A Dream is Born. I want to have a Master's degree just like Dad's
Today was Zsofia's first day of school!

She sat on the back seat of Pumpkin and woo'd sadly. She refused to believe Steve when he told her it would be fun. When we got out of the van, we had to drag the Darkest White Dog with us before curiosity led her to the open door.

Already there was a lanky Irish Wolfhound Mix and a striking Red Heeler pup waiting. Both seemed very shy despite Zso's best efforts at conversation and getting to know them. Our trainer has a reputation as being the "go to" for rescues and shelters with dogs that are "difficult" and whose lives depend on learning to overcome a plethora of issues. Sara wasted no time getting started.

To her momma's pride, our little girl proved she knew "sit" spot on as she demonstrated her skill on command in several different situations.  As Zsofia sat and waited, we talked about our goals for the next eight days.

The main reason we turned to a trainer is that we need to be absolutely confident that our little girl is trained to recall. If she should escape the house or slip her leash, I am physically unable to chase her down. And Siberian Huskies are notorious runners. The Eskie White Dogs will lope down the block and explore a bit but they circle back toward home and their food bowls quickly. We have heard stories from friends whose escaped Sibe has been found 5 miles from home.

Second, our Itty Bitty Baby Girl is already HUGE in comparison to her siblings. She must be trained to stop play or posturing the minute her size threatens the others. She and our littlest boy, Sachi, are best friends and wrestling partners, but what he accepts and even provokes is not the same as what Puff can tolerate. Zs must know the difference or be willing to stop immediately upon being told to "leave her!"

It is amazing to me as Zsofia grows how different her thought processes are from the White Dogs. If she didn't grow up believing she WAS an Eskie I feel they would be even more marked. This was apparent when the trainer asked us to use a collar rather than a harness as we trained and while we were reinforcing skills at home.

I raised an eyebrow and Steve started to explain our concerns about walking with collars stressing necks and throat tissue. "She pulls when you walk, doesn't she?" Sara asked. Steve confirmed. "When you put a harness on a dog bred for centuries to pull a sled, it is an instinctive signal to pull. That is why for now at least a harness is working against you." Zsofia looked at Steve and woo'd a "See? I am only following my nature."

It turns out that Zsofia is the ONLY dog in class. The other two were initial distracters and their people are volunteers in training there to gain dog handling skills. They left us and for the remaining 45 minutes we practiced simple recalls using a retractable leash and a collar. We tossed small pieces of hot dogs across the room and commanded Zso to "Go." She was allowed to hunt down the treat and eat it.  This was her favorite part of the class. Then she was called to "Come." She was expected to return and sit in front of who ever had called her.

No treat was given is she just walked back and remained standing. We were not allowed to repeat a command.  After ten seconds, we asked her to sit, but with no reward and then played another round of go and come. This was her least favorite part. It was fascinating to watch her problem solve what she needed to do to receive her reward. The trainer complimented her on how smart she was and sent us home to practice tonight.

When we returned home, Zsofia woo'd her story for nearly 3 minutes telling the WDA how hard it was and how exhausted she was from all the demands placed upon her. White Dog looked at Steve. "How did she do, really?" Steve did not lie when he answered, "She was the best in the class, be proud of her."

White Dog called for a round of duck jerky.


rottrover said...

You go, Zs!!


Random Felines said...

Go get'em Zso!! Just think all the attention she'll get in class. We heard over and over that a tired Sibe is a good Sibe

FiveSibesMom said...

Happy first day of school, beautiful Zsofia! Oh, yes, the wooing storytelling of Husky - I love it! I'm sure she had lots to say! ;-)

Tweedles -- that's me said...

The first day of school is a very important "first"