Saturday, April 4, 2009

The Obedient Greyhound

Well, today was a big day for Bunny. My husband and I help teach 4H dog obedience every year. It's strictly a volunteer endeavor, but one that we enjoy. Today was the orientation meeting. Usually we go and help and our friend who also teaches the class brings along her German Shepard, Steppen. This year, after taking Bunny through obdience class in the fall in preparation for taking a therapy dog test, I decided to take her to orientation as well. Blueberry has been through beginning obedience twice with my husband, but so far has not passed graduation night. Bunny tied for first place on our graduation night, a fact that she wanted me to pass along. She'd also like everyone to know that she's really not a trained monkey, however, and that she only works for food and attention. As we gathered things together, both girls got very excited about the prospect of going somewhere. However, Bunny was the only one who got to go. I imagine their conversation at the back door went something like this...

Bunny: We're going somewhere! Where could it be? I'll bet there will be people there who want to pet me!

Blueberry: It's going to be great! It will be some sort of grand adventure!

Me: Blue, not this time. You're staying home.

Blueberry: What the ...? Are you kidding me? This is an outrage!

Bunny: I get to go! I get to go! Everybody get ready to pet me!

So, we take the little puppy to the orientation and she's busy working her cuteness. I wasn't sure how it would go, because, well, she's a greyhound. So, basically she's a cat in a dog suit, and they aren't known for letting other people know that they've been trained to do anything. For another, she loves kids and that was who this orientation was for. When there is attention to be had, Bunny can get a little distracted in her quest for pets and being fawned over. It has also been several months since our class and I was hoping that she hadn't forgotten it all.

When we arrived at the Extension Building, Bunny pranced inside, ready to see what the new adventure was going to be. I was a little worried that she wouldn't cooperate about going up the rather lengthy flight of stairs, but she took them like a little pro. We entered the room and she was all smiles and tail wags. I got out her training collar and leash and she was thrilled. She supervised me while I filled the bait bag with her training treats, making sure I didn't skimp any there. Then she followed me over to the snack table and offered a taste test of the cookies that were there for the 4Hers as I put them on plates and got it set up. Steppen came up and she gave him a polite tail wag. Then she began to see the kids and parents coming in. She was one happy girl. After most of them were in and seated, she made the rounds, giving everyone a little sniff and a graceful tail wag, batting her golden eyes at them.

Then it was time for things to begin. Steppen went out with Kathy to begin showing the basic things the kids will have to work on with their dogs. Bunny tried to wait patiently, but when she saw the treat bag, she just knew it was time for her to shine. Steppen went through his paces. He covered the sits, downs and the stand. He was slightly off his game, though. After a few minutes of work, he headed for his buddy, my husband, and began to play with him. Things went along for a bit, and then finally it was Bunny's turn to show off.

You can see here that Bunny was not so impressed by Steppen's skills in obedience. After he walked off for the third time and went into his crate, I think I heard her sigh in disgust. She really was watching them closely, but I don't think she was taking any notes. More like she was biding her time to show off for the masses. I suspect she was also somewhat shocked by his lack of enthusiasm for working the crowd. After about twenty minutes or so, though, she couldn't take anymore watching. She got to her feet and waited to use her greyhound stealth and speed to make her entrance and charm the crowd. No doubt petting would ensue after she made her impression.

Before long, she finally got her chance. Steppen went into his crate and refused to come back when called, even with the promise of cookies. Bunny wagged her tail gracefully as she stood and pranced out in front of everyone. To my amazement, she went through all her paces beautifully. She did her dainty little trot, demonstrated about turns, sits, downs and the figure eight. I have to admit she charmed the crowd. I was proud of her as she did her thing. She worked for me and also filled in for the slacking Steppen.

When it was all over, people couldn't wait to pet Bunny. She didn't mind one bit. She spent her time leaning against them and enjoying all the scratches. After everyone had left, she helped my by cleaning up a few left over cookies as well. I suspect her favorite part of the whole thing was when we got home.
She was taken to the turn out pen and then we brought out the other three greyhounds. She playbowed at them and wagged her tail. Of course she also let them smell her breath to let them know she'd had cookies. I'm sure there was a brief conversation out there.
Blueberry: Bunny, where have you been?
Bunny: It was so great! Steppen was there and...
Lilac: That big hairy dog? What was he doing?
Bunny: We were showing kids dog obedience moves and...
Hawk: Was there any food? Did you go through any magic window places?
Bunny: They gave me cookies and treats! And there were people there! They all wanted to pet me and they did! They petted me for a long, long time, until I thought all my fur would fall off! It was just the best thing ever and I got to go and you didn't! Better luck next time guys!

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