Training a dog, maybe particularly a smart herder animal, has changed me some, and I think it will change me more.
At class Tuesday, Gracie got many accolades, especially for her sit and stays, which she sometimes did better than the grown dogs. And she had only learned to let me back away 10 feet in class.
"Oh, she's sharp, that one."
"Very well. Oh, for a puppy, very well."
"She's coming along, yes, she is."
And one of my favorites, of course.
"You can tell you two have been practicing."
Which, actually, we have.
Last class next week, then Gracie and I will practice sit, stay, down, heel (sic), all the time. After the classes, comes the practice. It's a lifelong commitment to practicing good manners. (Help! I can no longer remember what the fork at the top of the plate is for!)
Gracie and I have practiced. She is always on my left except returning up the ramp past the unexplained threatening hedge on the left.She sits. She stays. Her eyes gleam when I put on my carpenter's apron, stuff the treats in a pocket, and clip on her leash. She gets to work. She gets to move. She gets treats. And really, she loves me.
(Lord, age-appropriate friends and I have shuddered over the full 1950s Sunday dinners after church with the Dreaded Wedge of Iceberg Lettuce with Thousand Island. And you couldn't use a knife. Failure was...wass....well, Gracie is just a puppy. Even as a dog she would never go through that.)
I will continue writing. We have a long way to go, Gracie and I. Training has made us both listen to each other better.
She was already teaching me, but training has made me relax and just enjoy, and maybe teach her a bit. I'm lazy. She gets the heavy teaching gig, usually.
The other night, after a busy day sans Gracie, I went out on the deck with Gracie and my cell. I eyed it, let it be. I thought about how her "yelling" is down to legitimate requests for attention when I have ignored her too long. Yep. And she gets off on hugs and belly rubs. All her toys were inside. I watched her play, eventually run up and eat her supper, come over for a belly rub. We shared the time. So peacefull. So sweet.
This morning, I awoke to hear her munching on the very book I set on the floor last night saying, "she's too old to eat this now." Tonight, as I was writing, I stopped to wrest away the ballpoint she had already chewed to pulp, found on a lower shelf I again thought was safe. Nothing under three feet is. I must learn this.
Neither my children nor grandchildren chewed so vociferously. On the other hand, they learned really fast. So does Gracie. She also can be redirected by rawhide. My kids and grandkids don't respond to it.
Actually, she is snuggly and loving. Her front legs are amazingly strong. She plays, and loves, with all her might.
Just don't get in a tug of war with her rope.
She plays to win.