Tuesday, June 21, 2011


Wallow Fire  After I posted the item about "The Animals of the Wallow Fire," several people wondered where that name came from.  So did I.  A little research revealed that the fire started in the lush, pristine (well, it used to be) Bear Wallow Wilderness.  The area, crisscrossed by the Bear Wallow Creek, is in the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest, south of Hannagan Meadow.  Before the fire, the area was a hiker's dream.

Shriekers  I've never met a good trainer who had to yell at her dogs (usually repeatedly) to get them to obey.  "Perhaps if I can overwhelm Fluffy with decibels . . . "  (For instance: DOWN!!!!)  What's most infuriating about shriekers is when one of them is in the ring next to yours.

And then there are those who train their dogs using a high falsetto voice.  I can only imagine what the poor pooches think about being "shrilled" at.

The best-performing dogs I've seen have been trained by handlers who use calm, well-modulated voices. Show me a shrieker, I'll show you a bad trainer.

Airports  Following my posts about training in PetSmart and The Home Depot, a follower commented that in my books I had mentioned training in airports.  Indeed, both Honeybear and Bebop honed their attention skills in Sky Harbor International Airport here in Phoenix.  There are lots of challenging areas in airports.  The concourses offer ample space and plenty of distracting activity.  My favorite, though, was the baggage claim area, especially at a time of day when many flights are arriving and the carousels are starting up.  How you use these areas, of course, depends upon your dog's level of training.

Be sure to get permission before you go, and take with you the name(s) and title(s) of the permission-givers.  After September 11, 2001, airport security tightened dramatically.  At that point I covered myself with three layers of permission -- from the director of community relations, the director of operations and, most importantly, the director of security.

Alas, things have changed.  The terminal where we practiced was directly across from the parking garage.  That terminal has since closed and parking (for my high-profile vehicle) is a country mile from the other terminals.  To make matters worse, a Skytrain is about to go into service at the airport.  So we'd park, ride the train . . . oh, forget it!

Have you trained in a unique area?  If so, please share in the comments section below.


1 comment:

  1. Oh, the shriekers. They hurt my ears and I can only imagine how it hurts the dogs'. There's a woman who competes in agility and obedience with her Malamute locally (there are so few of us, but she really stands out) who just shrieks at the dog. I haven't seen her do obedience, but from what I'm told it's more of the same.

    I like having the other problem, where Layla might break on the "cah" part of "come". I love a little anticipation. Yes, sometimes in agility, when Layla's half the ring away from me, I'll have to use a loud command. But on my worst day I don't sound like the screamers.

    We haven't progressed to a lot of difficult places yet because we're still working on basics. But we have played some attention games at the hospital where we do therapy work. Not while we're seeing patients, but either starting or ending the visit. That includes a parking garage, near a cafeteria, gift shop with 4 foot tall stuffed animals, screaming patients, gurneys, etc. At an elementary school where we also do therapy visits at, we do attention games near their playground or recess yard and happened to be there during one of the fire drills. THAT was a good experience.

    I think one of the best ones is when we visit a friend's rabbitry. I used to be involved in 4-H and bred and showed rabbits. I'm still friends with some rabbit people and took Layla to their farm. Picture a decent sized barn filled with a few hundred rabbits in a sophisticated cage set up, including some play areas, whelping boxes and regular cages. I'm proud to say Layla was focused!

    I kind of like telling people, "Oh of course she knows how to ______ (sit, give paw, howl, etc), but she really only listens when I say it."