GREETINGS FROM SOUTH AFRICA
MAXMOM (and TOBY) here...
Hello there everyone...
I have a lot to tell you today...
THE CHALLENGE LIES BEFORE US!!!
Toby turned six months old yesterday...a good time to start an important countdown clock towards his debut in a musical stage production. You see, as of today, 25th January 2011, we have exactly...
120 DAYS TO GO!!!
Well, as you know, Toby has been invited to train up towards taking the role of 'Sandy' in a local high school musical production of
There are four concert nights and they are from the 25-28th May 2011.
Only 120 days and plenty of work to do if we are going to be ready on time!!!
During these 120 days, I hope to share this journey with you. It's a journey of hard work, dedication, patience, perserverence and wisdom . The 'wisdom part' is to know the goal, but to ALWAYS do the right thing for my dog!
We will need support, any offered prayers and also a bit of 'luck' in this journey. There are many things that can go wrong. Afterall, dogs aren't machines - they are live companions with special abilities and needs. Anything can happen along the way - illness, inadequate progress, fatigue, etc, etc...
Ultimately my priority is TOBY and for us to HAVE FUN!!!
"What's in it for me?" I might ask.
Well, it's the opportunity to do some solid training with my special Toby. It's also the opportunity to receive instruction from the excellent and well credited instructors from MCKAYNINE TRAINING CENTRE, at a time when Toby is at his most impressionable. Remember, he will only be 10 months old at the time it all goes to stage. It's also an opportunity to bond with my dog in a truly qualitative manner - earning his trust, embracing his talents, being patient with his flaws. It's an opportunity for my own personal growth too - since we can learn so much from our animals.
In all this fanfare, it's important to remember: I am an ordinary dog owner, with an understanding of basic obedience training. I do,however, offer absolute committment towards my dog and the goal ahead of us. Toby is a young dog and this is a lot to ask of a dog so who is only six months old at the moment...
But nothing happens unless one puts one's mind to it. It's simple....
"GO FOR IT!"
So...I am going to share this road with you - pitfalls and all!
Hold thumbs for us!
I thought I'd start off by telling you how exactly he's involved:
Here are the snippets from the various scenes where Toby will be involved
(as sent to me):
Scene 2: Annie calls dog to come and gives him a snack; he sits with her as she sings a song; she then calls him by name and he responds by coming to her; they walk off stage together.
Scene 3: Annie and Sandy enter; he sits/stands with her throughout the scene; he eats some "broth from a pot of stew"; she shoos him off stage.
Scene 6: Sandy wanders on stage alone, stops center and sits, then trudges off again.
Scene 6: Sandy is delivered in a big box as a Christmas present to Annie and all the orphans are delighted.
Yesterday we had our first meeting with the trainers.
We arrived at the training centre around midday and since we were waiting for the trainer, Toby was allowed "free" off leash, to explore the extensive grounds.
There are donkeys, chickens, sheep and kennelled dogs around the grounds, so he had a lot to absorb. He ran around with abandonment and delight at his newfound freedom.
Yes, he barked in exuberance and got himself pretty worked up - partly out of uncertainty - since this is not something I usually do with him.
But Toby soon settled down and then my friend, "Lorraine" and I shared a game with him - we got him running between her and I: "Recalls" both ways if you like. I need him to become aware of who is in his environment and where I fit into the picture.
After lengthy discussions with the trainer, we decided to start off teaching Toby to 'target sit'. We feel that, at the moment, the biggest challenge for Toby (besides the proofing of the actual set/stage/venue/event) will be 'scene six'. During this scene, I believe Toby will be alone on stage.
In order to accomplish this, the behaviour required is broken down into small training blocks. This week, I'll be concentrating on an 'AWAY command - using a small blue mat as the target. With sufficient treats on hand, Toby is encouged to veer towards the mat and 'SIT'. If he is in a sitting position (with any part of his body touching the mat) he is rewarded.
We are only allowed to repeat the particular exercise 8 times daily - 4 in the morning and 4 in the evening. The distance at the moment is small - about 2 meters. This will be extended as he progresses. At the moment he has no clue what I am requesting. He is still totally focussed on me and is not yet aware of the blue mat. We have a VERY long way to go...he will have to do this alone eventually.
Each time we practice this exercise, the position and area where the mat is place will be changed.
Toby and I will be attending our 'regular' obedience classes on a Thursday evening as well as 'formalised' training for "Annie" on a Monday. During the weeks ahead I will be taking him to various venues to get him accustomed to different things. Our local primary school has graciously agreed to allow us full access to all their activities too.
My friend, 'Lorraine' has offered to be my training companion during these 120 days. She is an experience puppy walker and has a wonderful understanding and compassion for Toby. Hopefully she'll help me take a few pictures along the way. Since I'll be focussed on Toby, photographs may become difficult. Thank you, Lorraine for your encouragement and support!
So there it is. There is the goal. One step at a time.
Let's all have fun with this journey!
I would like, in advance, to thank my readers for your encouragement. I'm going to need you along the way. There are sure to be some tough days. I will do my best to keep you updated.