GREETINGS FROM SOUTH AFRICA!
Hello there everybody!
I'm sorry I've not blogged much in the past couple of days, but life has turned hectic at this end of the pond. All is well here: we are having beautiful weather and Toby's training is coming along very nicely indeed.
Not only have we been religiously practicing Toby's obedience commands –
"sit","down", "stand", "come", "heel", "stay", "look" –
but we have also done a lot of work by visiting our local primary school.
As you might know, the principal has graciously allowed us access to the school and the opportunity of interacting with the teachers and the children.
(Perhaps in the weeks ahead I will find someone to help me take some photos of Toby and I at the school, but for the moment we'll have to be satisfied with my narrative. Unfortunately I can't handle a dog and take photos at the same time...yet! :))
There are only
112 days to go before the ‘Annie’ production
on the 25-28th May 2011,
so I have to make use of every day to work towards this goal.
We’ve had four visits to the school during this past week and Toby is adapting well. He's very relaxed during the entire time. Although our visits are only an hour long, I prefer not to extend it more than this. My goal is to give Toby only positive experiences and I don’t want to stress him out in any way. He's still young and we need to pace his exposure.
He absolutely adores these visits though and he presents his best behaviour. It’s quite a demanding environment with screaming children who can behave unpredictably, but he has taken to it like a Golden Retriever to water.
Today we visited two classrooms –
a Grade 1 class AND a Grade 2 class.
The teachers allowed me to give a little ‘talk’ to the children and I used the opportunity to introduce myself and to tell them about Toby, his breed and his training. On these visits I get Toby to do a few of his commands/tricks for the children, I answer their questions and give them an opportunity to interact with him. Between the teachers and I we line volunteers up (plenty of them) and allow them to shake Toby's paw. Toby LOVES offering his paw in greeting. The children are also most co-operative in assisting me to get Toby accustomed to their laughter, their clapping, their 'shouting' etc. It's not often that children are asked to be 'loud' on purpose.
Much to the childrens' delight, Toby barked at them during one of the first clapping sessions, but he's settled down now and I've managed to convert this behaviour by asking the children if Toby can say 'thank you' to them. I then ask him to 'talk' to them on command. The children dissolve into fits of giggles when we do this.
All the time, during these sessions, I’m rewarding Toby for his good behaviour. He is a quick learner.
So far, the school visits are going very well. I am really delighted that Toby has mastered his
I have even tested this command in front of the children within a classroom. This is a target exercise where the dog has to set off (on his own) towards a mat and sit on the mat. He is doing this beautifully already. I am very satisfied with his progress and his temperament. We get to meet up with McKaynine Trainers again tomorrow to assess his progress and set more goals.
Amidst all this hard work, I make a point of allowing Toby some fun 'playtime' with me.
When we get home after his school visits or any formalised training exercises, I make a point of building in some special time with him. He gets to swim, jump in the pool to fetch things, run around madly, play with Aunt Tam and generally just chill.
I then dry him off and groom him and he is free to do whatever he wants. Usually he chooses to continue following me around.
As part of his ‘treat’ the other day, we took the dogs for a walk to see the ducks at our local dam. All the dogs enjoyed the outing thoroughly.
May I please ask that you bear with me in the weeks ahead as my focus becomes more and more on Toby. My blog posts are bound to be less regular too and I might not be able to comment on your blogs as much as I usually do.
Thank you so much for understanding. You guys are fabulous!
Sending lotsaluv to you all.