(I missed one week of dog rehabilitation training, this refers to last Sunday, our culminating event.)
The doggies were on parade, and we, the trainers, were fearful we'd fail the dogs. For no matter what anyone says, if we didn't do our jobs right, then the dogs won't do as we ask of them. So we sat, smiling, trying to get our enthusiasm up, helping each other through a difficult day.
JI had a specific exam set out. The dogs must complete all 6 behaviors - walk on a loose leash (no pulling, no tugging, no walking wherever they want; they must follow us); sit; placement on the bed; down; come when called; and crate. A dog passes if they accomplish at least 5 of the commands, preferably all 6 to move onwards to the next level of training. We all worried about certain dogs; Makisig hasn't been a star pupil, while some of our better dogs have been exhibiting a sense of losing interest in some commands (too easy? bored? not enough treats?). Mitch wasn't doing a down as quickly, and I knew Hazel still has trouble walking properly. Gwen showed up but hadn't worked with Iris for weeks, so she didn't think she should work with the dog; she eventually did work with her through the course. And since Hazel has her owner, I didn't have a dog to work with. So I gave my support to all the handlers, and made sure John knew what the course was going to be like. John and the other trainer Joe looked a bit green around the gills, worried their dogs wouldn't make the grade.
The first two dogs went through the course with flying colors, that didn't help those at the end of the line, since it started to look like the best dogs went first. Finally we had a couple of dogs who missed one of the six commands, and JI gave comments, but still passed the dogs. Whew. We started looking at it as not simply a major obstacle for the dogs, but a chance to show how well they've done in the last couple of months. Their success, and yes, all 8 dogs passed, made us feel like we've come a long way since we began last December.
JI made it clear that we got them through basic puppy training. The next step is to get them through good citizenship training, and hopefully something even more advanced in the future.
We ended the day with a dinner, looking through photos of our graduation event, and group photos with the dogs. It was a great Sunday, a day of achievement and camaraderie.