Tuesday, January 25, 2011


MAXMOM (and TOBY) here...
Hello there everyone...

 I have a lot to tell you today...


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....

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.

Sending lotsaluv


Angus said...

A star of stage and screen !

Bouncing Bertie said...

Some important questions. Do you have your own trailer yet? How big is your entourage? I presume you have already been booked onto all the chat shows around the world to publicise the event? Has a personal groomer been hired? I hope you are drawing up a list of unreasonable demands to be met before you can think of performing.
There is more to being a star than just trotting around on the stage and obeying a few comments you know!
Toodle pip!

Bouncing Bertie said...

I meant 'commands' not 'comments' obviously...

~Kim at Golden Pines~ said...

Oh Caryl, I must have missed that post--How cool is this?? I'm so excited for you and Toby to step into the spotlight and know that with your direction he'll do wonderfully!

I have to tell you that Charlie, our Wheaten Terrier had a similar chance like this when he first came to us--He was asked to audition to be the 'spokes-dog' for Old Navy--It's a crazy story...But I felt at the time that it wasn't right for him. But as you found, you just know what's right for your pup, and what isn't.

Maggie Mae and Max said...

OoH MaxMom!!

How excitin' fur you and Toby! Mom and me know dat both of yous will do your best. :)

Woofs and Licks,
Maggie Mae

How Sam Sees It said...

How fun! We've always liked doing things like this with the pups. It gives you a chance to spend more time with them - and that is the most important thing of all!


Milo and Alfie Marshall said...

Whooooooah! This shoul be FUN! At least a couple of the scenes involve Toby having snacks ~ that should help!

Sheila and Bob said...

We know that both Toby and you are up to the challenge.

Sheila & Bob

Anonymous said...

I'm SOOOOOOOOOOOO very excited!!!! I know Toby's gonna be super wonderful and this is gonna be such a Most Fun experience for YOU, too! And you gotta keep this in mind - no matter WHAT Toby does, the audience is gonna LUV him. My mom said there's a reason that actors always say, "Never work with dogs or kids." Cuz they always steal the show. (Um, don't worry. I don't think they mean they LITERALLY steal the show.)

Wiggles & Wags,

Martine said...

Dear Caryl,
What an exciting adventure you are going to live with Toby. I know you and Toby are the best of all the teams. I'm looking forward to read about it.
Hugs from Alsace.

The Life of Riley said...

Hi Maxmom,

Toby is going to be the star of the show, and I'm sure you will have lots of fun and laughs training together.

Have you thought of trying teaching him with a clicker? Riley's obedience club don't use them (they are the old fashioned correction type of trainers), but at home Riley has learnt all sorts of things really fast associating doing right with hearing a click, then getting a small food reward. It is so fun training him this way, as all I need to do is show him the clicker and he is eager to learn new things. On stage Toby would be listening for a click (rather than your voice) to know he had done his routine (lots of little steps put together to one click at the end) right.

Rob said...

I'm sure Toby will enjoy learning not to mention all the attention, I will look forward to seeing how he goes on.

Mrs. JP said...

Toby will have so much fun in the training. We are so proud of you both already. GO FOR IT!!

Angel Junior, Orion and Sammy said...

WOO HOO!!! We know you both can do it!!!!!

♥♥ The OP Pack ♥♥ said...

We might just have to try to get a little excursion going to South Africa so all the bloggers can take in this show. Lots of work ahead for you and Toby, but it will be so worth it.

Woos ~ Phantom, Thunder, and Ciara

♥I am Holly♥ said...

That is so exciting!!! We know that Toby is going to be a star!! It's going to be hard work, but it's really going to be fun and worth it! We are excited for you!! Lots of love, Holly and mom

Kasha The Dainty Great Dane said...

How exciting for you and Toby...I wish I was there to see your production!

AARF Kasha the Dainty GReat Dane

Molly the Airedale said...

What a challenge this is going to be but we know you'll ace it, Toby and Maxmom!

Love ya lots,
Maggie and Mitch

Clive said...

The very best of luck with all of that! It will be lots of hard work but great fun!

Clive was offered a part in the musical Annie here last year but as it involved three weeks - getting to the theatre at least an hour before the show and having to stay until the end of the show every night - we declined! Also, we felt it was very unfair on Murray to have Clive away from him every night! However, three of our puppy walkers shared the nights with their puppies in training - who would have all been around 12 months old and it worked out very well. The producers mightn't have got the 'shaggy' dog that they originally thought but we felt share that we had made the right decision and the puppies in training were great. Some of the cast members also had a bucket colletion every night at the end of the show in aid of Irish Guide Dogs so it ended up that we made quite a bit of money for future training.

We look forward to following Toby's progress ....

take care
Clive and Murray

houndstooth said...

I'm sure Toby will do great!

I remember when our Greyhounds were in a stage production of Giselle. They weren't the stars, but they stole the show! It was a lot of work, but in the end I felt it was worth it for us. You'll have a lot of fun with it!

Pepsi the Lazy Bum said...

Oh this is so exciting!! I'm sure Toby will be great!


Tweedles -- that's me said...

Sometimes taking one day at a time, is what we need to do.
And just baby steps at that.
What a incredible challenge is ahead of you! We will support you all the way. What ever you need from us- we are here.

Two French Bulldogs said...

Oh my goodness Toby how exciting!! A star....
Benny & Lily

The Heartbeats said...

Fascinating! We just know Toby will be a bright shining star onstage!

The Heartbeats