May 10, 2009

A Non-Traditional Student

We brought the new used Chessie home last evening: Fisher, 20 months, of good lineage but not much training--essentially a backyard dog for people who did not have enough time for him.

It is a good thing that he was at least crate-trained, or we never would have made it through last night. He is a speeded-up mixture of excitement, anxiety, and curiosity, seemingly stuck on "High."

This afternoon, after two walks in the woods, I took him down to the far end of the driveway, out of sight from the house, to try some retrieving and to start introducing him to whistle commands.

I kept it short: a few "single tweet means sit" lessons, some bumper tosses, and a no-pressure "happy bird" at the end.

I kept it short because I was growing sadder and sadder, thinking of Jack up there on the veranda, still within earshot, with his arthritis, bladder tumor, and newly sprained shoulder. The medication may help a little, but we know he suffers.

Was he hearing the whistle, wondering why it was not for him?

He was calm when we returned though. Maybe as long as he could not actually see me working with the new dog, he was not so jealous. Maybe we humans always read more into our dogs than we should. I would have to be tougher-minded if I ever wanted to be professional trainer, not that I do.

At the university, undergraduate students over 25 are called "non-traditional." They are often the most eager learners. I am hoping that Fisher will be too.

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