Tuesday, 5 September 2017

In Which Being A Dog-less Dog Lover Has Its Perks

I'll be honest. Being a dog-less dog lover -- much less dog trainer -- sucks.

But sometimes, it provides unique opportunities.

Last night, I went to obedience club, even though I wasn't rostered to teach. The other instructors often bring their own dogs to train when they aren't teaching. But, of course, I don't have a dog of my own. No matter. I could just watch a class -- there's always something to learn about teaching [humans], and training [dogs], by watching others.

But then my colleague Ryan, who was teaching last night, offered to lend me his dog, Barney, so I could participate in a class.

I felt a bit of a thrill as I took Barney and joined the line of students waiting for our instructor. (Not Ryan -- we run many different classes.) Now, I have taken Miss Ava in class before. But this felt different -- probably because I've never worked with Barney before! So I imagine the feeling was one part 'I hope I don't embarrass myself' and two parts 'hey, this is cool'.

What are we waiting for?

It turned out to be a bunch of fun! Barney is a wonderful dog. Very, very laid-back for a young labrador, and he was very responsive to me, despite the fact that, well, he doesn't know me! Even more impressive was the fact that Ryan was about 10m away, walking around and calling instructions to his class. I've seen dogs in class ignore the 50-60 other strange dogs and their handlers working around them, but lose all focus because their other human, fur-sibling or doggy friend are elsewhere on the field.

But Barney, absolutely cool dog that he is, was content just to glance over at Ryan when we took breaks. Loyal, but composed.

I may be lanky, but I'm cooler than James Dean.

It was a great night. I'm grateful to Ryan for lending him to me, to the instructors at club who trust us with crazy shenanigans, and to my classmate who always gives me great training (and teaching) advice every time we see each other.

And of course this dude, who made my night! I'm still grinning.

That's cool, you can pay me in treats.

Being dog-less in the dog industry is a weird place to be. But sometimes, cool things happen.

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