Tuesday, February 22, 2011


MAXMOM reporting...

As most of you know, Toby is (hopefully) going to be taking part in the production of “Annie” which is to be staged in May this year.
Last night I took Toby on yet another school visit to spend time with the cast. At the moment the venue is still on the school’s premises but will be moved to the main theatre closer to the time.
(Practicing the "AWAY" command)

The purpose of Toby’s participation at the moment is simply to get him accustomed to the children, the environment and the many distractions. He receives a lot of training during the week, but it is the proofing of his commands that is most important for the production itself.

Training a dog is hard work at the best of times. It can be energy sapping too and I admit that I often feel the fatigue. Each day is different and brings unique challenges. Yesterday Toby was phased by table-tennis balls and motor-bikes. Last week it was the white statuettes in the school’s court yard.

("It's okay Toby, they are only playing Table tennis! 
There's no need to try to catch the balls!")

Sometimes I feel that perhaps I shouldn’t be doing this with a dog so young. Toby is only 7 months old. Like all teenagers, he is energetic and exuberant and often gets distracted from his “focus” exercises. Last night I battled to keep his attention and his recalls were far from satisfactory. He was too excited for my liking.

What keeps me going with this goal is this amazing opportunity it presents – both for Toby as well as for me. In my case it’s an opportunity to work with a truly amazing trainer:
and the chance to be exposed to what is required when training an animal for a special stage production. In Toby’s case it is the opportunity to have some fun, to receive specialised wrangling training and to be exposed to environments which dogs normally don’t get. It’s a time when he is most impressionable and I am hoping this will be an advantage in the long-run.

The bonus in this whole exercise is that Toby is one of the most affable dogs I have ever met! He ADORES people, other animals and new environments.
(Some of the cast members getting to know Toby)

His exuberance is contagious and uninhibited.
("Yes, I want to hug you too!")

My problem is learning to control him at these times...and it’s difficult.
("Look at me, Toby!"

Last night I would say he was ‘half a hooligan...but still very sweet’. Although he did okay overall, his responses to my commands seemed half-hearted. What he really wanted to do was romp and play with all these young people. From an outsider’s point of view, I suppose this didn’t look out of the ordinary – he is simply a dog having fun. But from my own point of view, I feel uneasy about us successfully grooming him up "in time" for this event. Is his youth going to be his drawback? I know the importance of this event to the school and I am not one to give up once I have made a commitment, but his exuberance is still of concern to me.
(Breaking the "Down Stay!")

Objectively, I think that last night’s progress was on track. Toby had his first experience with being “on stage” and in the company of cast members who were practicing their lines.
("Yes, the audience will be 'down there', Toby!")

He got to meet “Annie” personally and I was delighted that he is able to respond to her own command for him to ‘Bow ‘. ( I have taught him this trick so that he can bow with the cast during the final curtain call)
(I'm showing "Annie" how to give the 'BOW!'command to Toby)

("Annie" does it herself..."GOOD BOY, TOBY!")

His ‘send- aways’ were very good but his ‘stays’ were dreadful...oh dear!
Also, the floors where they are currently rehearsing are extremely slippery at the moment and Toby ends up slipping and sliding during his exuberance.
(Practicing his "BOW!" on stage)

This concerns me because I know that he is a growing dog and his joints are always vulnerable. I am not sure what can be done about this problem yet.
(Getting a special ear-rub from the Dancing instructor)

Good news is that we have managed to procure a crate. Hopefully I will have it in my house by Friday this week and I can start crate training. I know this is an easy thing for many people but we’ll see how Toby responds. All dogs are different.
("Come Toby, let's have a break...Let's PLAY!")

At home Toby is vital and sweet. His affinity for searching through dustbins is most frustrating and last night his prize was a bath-plug.
( It’s now on my shopping list!)
Tissues too are converted into chewing gum... The joys of a growing pup!

This is all such a big challenge for me. I can only hope that things will progress smoothly and that Toby’s exuberance settles and his presence in the “Annie” production is ultimately a credit to everybody involved.


Finally I would like to say that my thoughts and prayers are with all those folk in Christchurch, New Zealand, after yet another devastating earthquake. What a blow it has been – not only for their city, but for the people who have lost their lives and the families which they leave behind. It’s a worrying time for everybody. A whole wave of South African love is coming your way!

Sending lotsaluv


Amber-Mae said...

Wow! You are lucky to be playing as Annie's dog! I remember the time when Melissa wanted me to play Annie's dog too but...don't think that will ever happen. You are such a handsome puppy & it looked like you were the popular one on stage.

Rocky Creek Scotties and Rocky Creek Ramblings said...

I can hardly wait to see what happens when he is in the production - he'll do great!! He is so sweet - no wonder all the kids love him.

As far as the slick floor goes - when Java had problems, I found that if I kept the hair between his pads trimmed that it helped tremendously.

Have a great day,

Jake of Florida said...

All actors ger nervous and wonder whether they can do it and Toby won't be any different from the rest of the cast -- except for that wagging tail!! Whether he gets all his commands down exactly perfectly correct -- he will still be a show stopper and everyone will love him. I know you want him to be the best he can be -- and he will. And it's only February!!!!!

Wirey woofs from the Barkies -- and hugs from me, Joan

WFT Nobby said...

Hi Toby
You just keep on having fun and you'll be just fine!
I still love tissues more than anything else! Between you and me, I think Gail has given up on that one, figuring that at least tisues are not expensive to replace.
Toodle pip!
Bertie, your best Scottish pal.

Brandon - The dog with a blog said...

This is truly a great opportunity for both Toby & you.
I'd jump at the chance to do something like this with my dog (though I don't think the guide dog program would allow it).
I'm really enjoying reading about your & Toby's adventures with the training, it's (almost) like Rudy's training to be a guide dog - though he's not doing any plays!

Keep up the great work, I'm looking forward to hearing more and I love the pictures!

Rudy's Raiser

Suka said...

hey Toby,

The fist picture of your is beautiful! Your eyes and face just shine love and happiness! Gorgeous! Your adventures in rehearsal are very interesting to read about. I am very excited for you and know you will do your best during the actual play. Keep working hard, even though I know it is tough for a young pup, but it will be worth it in the end!


Rob said...

At least if Toby is excited he must be enjoying it. I think he is going to steal the show.

Piappies World said...

We are just so excited to see how your training will progress and how wonderful you will be come production time. You are such a hard working pair with MaxMom and we support you all the way.

The cast adores you and it is not hard to figure out why. We love that you are practicing your bows so well.

Keep at it, lil sweet hooligan.

Piappies Fudgie, Princess, Frappie, Mocha, Sugar, Wai-Pai, Wai-Max & Forgie

Mrs. JP said...

Toby and You are doing great!! I'm so glad that "Annie" is already giving commands and look at Toby doing as she asks!! Like you said, this will pay off now and big time in the long run.
Toby will love his crate. We crate train by giving them a treat to get in at first and make it play. Eventually it becomes their den - they are pack animals! I don't think I'll be able to get Charlie to give his up he loves it so much. Now it's become a treat to get to lay in his kennel.
Prayers to all of New ZEaland.

Oskar said...

Wow, Toby is sure learning a lot. My paws are crossed for him to be trained well enough for the performance. As they say, the show must go on.

Nubbin wiggles,

Bobbie said...

What a wonderful dog!! My son has a very light Golden, her name is Ginger. I visited your other blog and cried as I watched Max' tribute video. How beautiful!!!

NanaNor's said...

Hi there, Your training of Tobi inspires me-wow!!! I've done my share of dog training but nothing like you are doing-what a thrill especially to work with the on-stage trainer. I sure hope, when the times comes, that I can find a dog as sweet as your Tobi, Max etc. but with curly non-shed hair.
Hugs and lots of love to you all.
Noreen & Reggie-dog

Molly the Airedale said...

We think you are doing a terrific job for such a youngster, Toby! You're going to ace this - we know you will!

Love ya lots
Maggie and Mitch

houndstooth said...

There's a blog that I follow, BZ Training, with a pair of Goldens, and she holds herself accountable by making a list of her goals for training with the dogs for the year and then keeping track of her progress. What I like is that she has it organized with a checklist about the things she wants to get done with each dog and the things that they've mastered. It might help you to feel less frazzled with the process and to be able to see the things he's gotten under his leash, so to speak.

You can go to an office supply store and get a bottle of this stuff that people use to make their fingers tacky so that papers aren't always sticking to together when they're trying to file and such. Anyway, that stuff works great for dogs who are having trouble with slippery floors! ;) We've used it with foster dogs who were scared to walk in our kitchen. It's safe to use and should help keep him from falling.

Ms. ~K said...

This is so exciting! Toby will be the star of the show, no doubt!

sprinkles said...

I bet Toby will be the most popular cast member!

Kate said...

Toby is going to steal the show!

Can't imagine anything more fun then kiddies and treats!

Woohoooooo! Looking forward to seeing some photos of the show in future!

Two French Bulldogs said...

Oh Toby we can't wait!!
Benny & Lily

KT and Easton said...

Toby is growing so fast. So much is expected of such a young boy. It seems like the two of you are connecting - only good things can come from that. He won't let you down, just let him be a kid as much as practical. A superstar in the making for sure.

Bailey Be Good! said...

WoW! How awesome for you to be in a show! Can I have your pawtograph? Hehe

Woofs & hugs,


Amy Wood said...

Being part of the Annie cast sounds like fun. Hope all your hard work to get Toby ready pays off. Looking forward to hearing how he is progressing. Good luck!

KB said...

Aside from the actual production of Annie, all of the experience that Toby is getting is going to pay HUGE dividends in the future. He is already very well adjusted, and I can only imagine how he'll be when he's 2 years old.

I understand the dog training fatigue. It is so very hard to constantly be training a dog. That is indeed what a person must do because bad habits can be picked up so fast, when you're not paying attention. So, it's tiring. But, I can tell that you are doing an amazing job!

It's truly astounding how well he controls himself and listens to you for such a young dog!

Kari said...

Toby will do an excellent job!!!
If anything, we would think that working with a live audience would be the most difficult. Noise, lots of people making different sounds ; maybe even peole calling to him!
Being realistic, we are sure some of the child actors will forget their lines or miss their cues. They all will do their very best but we can't expect perfection from any of the youngsters, either human or canine. We're sure the production will be a delight.

Unknown said...

Ooh - how exciting!! I think it is a WONDERFUL opportunity and Toby is actually doing incredibly well, given his age. And you are a wonderful owner & trainer, Maxmom, with all your patient persistence.

I agree with you that having this kind of experience is really beneficial to the dog at this kind of impressionable age - Honey wasn't involved in a produciton but she did have many similar type experiences at an early age, accompanying me to a school to spend time with children & being involved with Therapy work, therefore going to many different places & situations, as well as of course, her dancing & performing...and I'm convinced that it's all these experiences that have made her the very sociable & stable dog she is today. But do get the most out of such experiences, the dog really needs a good owner/trainer to guide them and Toby is so lucky to have you!

Don't worry - I'm sure things will all come together by the time of the performance - you sound like you're making great progress already! Things like Stay just need lots of repetitions in distracting environments, so that the dog learns that they can't get away with breaking it (no matter what the distraction!) and therefore gradually give up trying.

Anyway, wishing you lots of good luck from Down Under and we will be following Toby's preparation for his 'stage career' with great interest!

Hsin-Yi & Honey the Great Dane