The Real Time Canine II

After spending 2 years writing the Real Time Canine, the adventure continues with The Real Time Canine II. Read along as I look for just the right puppy to continue the experience. After false starts with Tim and Jed, I am currently training young Tam, and Spot, which are both off to a strong start. Please visit the RTC II to read about training sessions as they occur.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Definition of dog

My dogs are all distinctly different from one another, and I was considering just how different today when I had them all together outside with me. In their own, distinct manner, each has taught me lessons that I needed, and have made be better.

At almost 10 years old, Price, shown here at the Soldier Hollow Dog Trial in Utah, has been with me the longest. For almost 9 years he has stood unwavering by my side through miles and miles of training and competing, 3 moves, international travel, bad decisions, heartbreak, love, sickness and health, and I am having a hard time imagining my life without him. He is getting older, and the thought occurs to me how I'm going to deal when that time comes.

All my dogs are good in the sense that they never mean any harm. Unlike friends who only want what's best for me, my dogs only want me, but none more than Price. Perpetually, he has the attitude and look about him that says; "it's OK, I'm right here, and I'll always be right here. No matter what you do or how long it takes, I'll just wait for you here." Like the worn through love of the long-time-married, I selfishly take his devotion for granted. I believe him. From his point of view, however, he is the long-time-married who will cherish the other until death do us part. Whether at work or in leisure, Price is resolute, consistent, unshakable and he is as much a part of me as anything that's unattached can be. My definition of Price is committed.

I first saw Mirk on a buying trip to Wales. I was buying another dog, but tried to come away with Mirk instead. It was not to be at that time, but he was offered to me 6 months later, and I jumped at the chance. Unlike Lad before him, I didn't make the trip across to collect him, and he was shipped alone. Mirk was calm and passive when I let him out of his crate at the airport. He quietly followed my lead as we walked about on small grass area near the receiving bay. This quiet, calm is his demeanor.

Mirk is humble. He is confident of his job, but will not fight or push against me if I ask him for something new or different. Once he understands the new concept, he readily incorporates it into his arsenal, and returns to his quiet, confident power on the job. Mirk is observant. Rather than participate in an activity, he will lay in the shade and watch the action from there, until such time when I'm alone, and he can approach by himself for some love. My definition of Mirk is devoted.

Like a coiled spring, a big coiled springs, Star lives his life in leaps and bounds.
I hear his rapid, lunging strides long before I feel him shoot past me when we're together, and I have no doubt he could do damage if I inadvertently got in his way in mid-lunge. Star-man is an athelete at that adolescent stage where he is a little unsure, but sponging up knowledge each and every day. He is learning quickly.

Star is a thinker that will hesitate until he is sure. Then he smoothly and efficiently completes the task and is a joy to handle. Afterwards, he sits in the shade and smiles at me anticipating the love he is sure to receive. Star is adorable. After that blushing puppyhood phase when I was center stage, he discovered the big dogs and wanted to be just like them. I took a back seat. At not quite 1 year old, he has come full circle and now seeks out the love and attention he ignored from me for a while. My definition of Star is Exuberant.

No one could ever convince me that Dexter was put on this earth for anything other than to love and be loved. After his close call with the euthanasia needle in an Orange County, California animal shelter, we found each other and are all but inseparable now.

Dexter is my constant companion. He sits with me, rides in the car, sleeps on the bed and lays nearby when I'm working. Dexter follows me around the yard when I garden, sometimes playfully biting at my ankles, and I watch while he hunts lizards or stalks a gopher. He is never far from where I am. Dexter is forever attentive and alert, not only to me, but the world around him, and while he seldom does so, I listen when he barks. Dexter pays attention. He skitters wherever he goes, and the sound of him on my saltillo tiles is like raindrops on a tin roof, or mice in the attic. He has surprising speed for one so tiny, and boundless energy. It seems like his little feet barely touch down when he runs, spins and leaps across my huge boulders that dwarf him. Little, 5-pound Dexie is nimble and quick. My definition of Dexter is Jubilant.

I have traded dogs over the years. Trained some and sold them, or raised them from pups and then moved them on to new homes. I'll never know what I missed by letting them go, and I'm sure I missed a great deal. Good dogs, all of them. My personal belief is that there are no bad dogs, just bad owners, and given a healthy environment, every single one of them bring gifts that only they can give. I appreciate them mightily. My dogs have taught me how.

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