Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Starting the Day with a Doggie Rodeo - and Continuing Onward

My little dog yard stretches off the end my house. The free-run pen sort of wraps around the corner in an "L" shape that is accessible through a man-way door in the garage. Continuing in line past the pen are four houses with a chain/swivel system commonly used by dog mushers to contain our critters while allowing the dogs to interact.

Normally I rotate dogs around the yard. I usually have one (sometimes two) in the house with me, one or two in the pen, and the rest on their swivels. By rotating dogs around various houses I try to avoid some of the resource guarding issues that can occur when dogs feel entitled to claim specific "territory".

When I brought Rose and Nells home from the airport after their long and stressful flight, I had a good idea. Well, I thought it was a good idea. I figured I would put them into my free-run pen together for a couple of days to stretch their legs a bit and get to know some of my other dogs through the safety "barrier" of the chain link fence.

I then rotated the other dogs around the swivels, so everyone had a chance to touch noses and smell each other up really well. The only real downside to the whole deal was that Rose and Nells haven't had a chance to bond to me yet. They've been avoiding any physical contact for the past several days and of course, being young, physically fit and especially agile dogs, they are MUCH faster than I am.

Today was the day for the pups to move out onto swivels in the yard where they can become part of the Stardancer Kennel's normal rotation. The rodeo began when it was time to try to catch them. You've seen martial arts movies where fighters seem to run on vertical walls? Well, this morning I saw two very quick little sled dogs do that. Heck, Rose was having a great time just playing the game. From the look on her face I'm pretty sure this was the most fun she's had in a while.

Fortunately, I had a solution right at my fingertips. I dialed up my friend Mike Green on the phone and invited him to the party. After all, when a pair of dogs is making a fool out of one guy they really deserve an opportunity to make a fool out of two. Of course you can't just dial up your buddy and say "Hey, yawanna come over and watch two pups make a total fool out you?" It's considered poor form among buddy - circles. Instead, I called up Mike and said "Hey, if you'd like to come over and help me out with a little project I'll fix you pancakes for breakfast."

I make damned good pancakes, and Mike's wife had other plans for the day that didn't include him, so he watered his own dogs and then came on over. We enjoyed a good cup of coffee and pancakes with bacon for breakfast, and as Mike belched and pushed himself away from the table I said "Here's the project - we gotta catch these two pups and get 'em out on swivels so I can handle them a bit before bringing them to your place to board."

Mike's a pretty practical guy. He saw right away the advantage of having me handle the pups for a couple of days before he boards them for two weeks, so he agreed to the proposition. At that point we had two large, gregarious, hairless primates facing two large, physically fit and exceedingly agile canines. It should have been a "slam dunk", and it was. Especially when Nells leaped over my head, slam dunking me face first into an empty food bowl.

Actually, we herded them toward a corner of the yard, and the moment we were able to lay our hands on them they were like entirely different pups. Once captured they accepted our handling very nicely, enjoyed being petted and especially enjoyed "butt rubs" (I think ALL dogs enjoy butt rubs). They made a token effort to escape as we escorted them to their swivels, but once firmly fastened they made a couple of circles around their posts, checked out their "new" dog houses, and settled in as though they'd lived on swivels all their lives. Of course, they probably HAVE lived on swivels all their lives.

I've been going out every couple of hours to feed them tasty treats and pet them and give them butt-rubs and such, and they've been okay with it. Mike has agreed to do the same while they are at his yard during my next work rotation (which is coming up WAY too quickly). Actually, I can't think of anything that could possibly lure Mike away from petting and loving-up these two. He is one of the best puppy trainers I know. Truly a man with infinite patience, a keen eye for canine body language, and a true love for helping pups learn how to get along in the sled dog world. He also has excellent taste in pancakes.

No comments:

Post a Comment