Thursday, February 7, 2013

Olive, the Schoolgirl

Last night we went to Olive's school to meet her teacher. The first lesson was for people only, the dogs will have their "first day of school" next week.

The class was interesting.  It is specifically geared toward dogs who have strong reactions to other dogs. Each dog will have visual barriers separating them from the other dogs in the class (we'll even enter and exit the room at different times so the dogs avoid seeing one another) and these barriers will - hopefully - be overcome, literally and figuratively.

Olive's aversion to other dogs is mild. She does fine in the dog park, and she does alright with most other dogs once she gets to "meet" them for a few minutes. But when an unknown dog first comes into her line of sight, she pulls strongly and sometimes barks. That's not allowed in regular "Dog Manners 1" so we have to start in this remedial class.

The class is held at the shelter where we adopted Olive over a month ago. It was interesting to go back there. I wonder what she'll make of it when we take her there - will she remember it? Will she have negative memories associated with it?  We drove past the small play yard where we first met her and my husband said "That's where you fell in love." Aaww, so true!  It was like revisiting the scene of your first date.

As for the class, it seems like it is going to be good. The teacher seems really into positive training (no yelling or punishments) and lots of treats.

The other students seem fine. There's one young guy (early 20s?), I'm impressed that he's making the effort to train his dog properly at that age. There are a few couples, including one that brought their daughter. (The teacher encourages you to bring anyone who is going to be regularly involved in your dog's training so that the dog will get more consistency at home.)

And then there was this one woman... well, there's always one in every group, right?  (More if the group is a law school class.) She came into class and immediately made it all about her.  She wasn't really in this class, but she's going to miss one of her regular classes, so could she join? And there weren't enough handouts (because she wasn't scheduled for this class), could she just look on with someone? She dominated the entire discussion. Then the teacher had us go around and tell what our dogs reactions are to other dogs.  Most of just described with a couple of words, but she had to actually act like her dog and make a loud hissing noise that got all the dogs in the shelter riled up and barking. Seriously, you couldn't just say the word "hissing"? At one point, she tried to elaborate, "Well, my dog's history is that he..."  I was so proud when the teacher said "We don't need to go into our dogs' histories tonight. This isn't the time for that."  Yes!

But the best part came, at the end of class, the teacher said, "Ok, I think that's everything, unless anyone has any issues really individual to their dog, please let me know."  So, I said, "Our dog is a tripod. I think she'll be able to do everything else in the class can do, but since you asked about individual issues, I thought that may be worth mentioning." The teacher responded "Aawww, a tripod! She should be fine, but we'll keep an eye on it."

Then the annoying lady raised her hand.  "My dog has a problem with his legs too."
"How so?" the teacher asked.
"Well, he's kind of bow-legged."
Really?  I'm glad this woman isn't actually in our class, she would drive me crazy.

We got a list of school supplies, so Olive and I went to Petco today to do some "school shopping". She has to wear this front halter thing during class, and we're supposed to spend the week getting her used to it.

Doesn't she look like Hannibal Lecter? 
No? Ok, fair enough, but I've been calling her Hannah-belle! 

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