I posted a few days ago about Glacier being a "super dog." It's funny how true some things turn out to be.
Glacier and I were doing our Rally Obedience training in the backyard again this afternoon. Mr. K was studying for a test, so I thought it best to take the whole gang outside for a while. They have been absolutely crazy today. I think part of it could be that things are changing around them. They don't understand why I am putting things into boxes and not letting them remove the items. It could just be the weather getting warmer. Either way, training was taking place outside to give Mr. K a quiet house; at least for a short while.
Glacier and I went through a lot of different cues today. We are just working the things he will have to know for Wednesday's evaluation. I am impressed with his progress, but that is not actually why he is a Super Non-mut today.
Normally when we are out training, the sun is out,the air conditioning unit kicks on every once in a while,, or the pump in the well house starts humming. But today there was no sun, it wasn't hot enough for the air conditioning to turn on and Mr. K was studying so he didn't use any water. All of these things are indicators to me with regards to my location. The sun only shines on a certain side of the backyard because of a giant tree we have; the air conditioning unit is mounted on the wall just to the left of the back door; and the well house is almost in direct line with the back stairs. Without any of these cues, I got myself turned around. I wasn't worried about wandering off into my neighbour's yards because we do have a fence, but I didn't want to be stuck out there walking in circles, guessing where the house might be. Plus, I am from Canada, I'm still afraid of fire ants and other weird SC bugs that might be lying in wait under the "pine straw."
Our yard is quite large and it's easy to get lost in. It was a concern I had when I first started training out there, but soon learned what to listen and feel for. If I had had my cell phone with me, I could have called or texted Mr. K to come and open the back door so that I knew where it was, but I had left it inside. I didn't realise that the sun wasn't out and didn't know that none of my audible indicators weren't going to go off.
By the time I noticed that I was lost in my backyard, I had already released Glacier as a reward for his hard work. He was off prancing with
Roscoe and the other fuzzies, but when I started taking a few hesitant steps, all of the dogs came running back to me. I felt a bit better with them around, but I still couldn't figure out how to get my rear end back to the house. I thought for a minute and then decided that if I found the fence, I could follow it back to the deck.
It was a good idea in theory, but when I found a fence, I didn't know what end of the yard I was at. Was I right? Left? All the way at the back?
I still held Glacier's leash and flat collar in my hand and a thought occurred to me. I have friends whose dogs leash guide them. Basically, even though they are not working and just supposed to be heeling they put tension on the leash and direct their person. They can also use their bodies to push their handler where they want them. Roscoe does this with Mr. K. Jetta never did this, but I wondered if Glacier would.
I have been working so hard with him and loose leash heeling that I didn't want to undo all of our hard work and have him guide me with the leash. So, I called him to me and put his collar back on. I just grabbed onto that and said as happily as I could muster,
"find the stairs." I kept repeating it and he started walking, tail wagging ears up. I knew he was thinking, but I didn't know what he was thinking. Did he think it was a game? Could he actually process what I was asking him? Roscoe trotted along side and got more and more excited every time I told Glacier to find the stairs. I don't know if Roscoe was cheering his friend on, or helping him find his destination, but Roscoe seemed to think he should help too.
Suddenly Glacier stopped and Roscoe danced even more enthusiastically on the spot. I reached my hand out and found the railing to the back stairs. I was floored. I then proceeded to have a party with Glacier and Roscoe, sticking left over training kibble in their mouths as fast as I could. They had just turned an ordeal that could have taken a half an hour into a three minute meander.
All I can say is "wow." So cool!