I’ve been so uplifted by all the lovely messages and love and positive thoughts, energy and prayers that you’ve sent and they helped so much. It means a lot that you’ve taken the time to send your love and Em says that she’s doing her best to get through them and that she’s been as uplifted too although she’s slightly distracted by Cadbury’s mini cream eggs at the moment… although she’s reluctant to admit her addiction. Pup and I hear the tell tale clink of the treat jar lid and foil getting peeled back then in Em pops with a delighted twinkle in her eyes and the ‘I haven’t nibbled on chocolate, honest,’ expression.
Mum has been watching Crufts and telling us all about how experts train their dogs which makes me chuckle because it reminds me of when we were training Ferb and dangling treats under a dog’s nose is only helpful when they are into treats… and Ferb wasn’t!
Golden Retrievers (or at least Ferb) seem to work slightly differently and I remember going to countless training classes with experts who dealt with lots of breeds (in addition to his specialised training) because, in our naivety we thought it would be helpful… Ferb is a joker through and through and very happy to show up experts when given the opportunity because he found it funny and I think he liked to show us that if he misbehaved with us… he would misbehave a whole lot more for someone else.
One session, we had gone to a class of experts who dealt with dangerous dogs and rehabilitated them but they were running classes on obedience. Hmm… So, in we go and Ferb, at five months, is more interested in playing with a poodle across the barn than his manners. Yes, he knows what he should do, he has amazing manners most of the time, but he’s an overgrown bundle of fluff whose spotted someone that looks like his best buddy so in he charges, Em attached. She has that face on that parents do when their child decides they’re going to pull a tantrum in a public place. You know that look, the ‘they really are well behaved. I’m a good parent, I promise.’ So, anyway, she tells Ferb to sit and he does while eyeing his potential play buddy and the very experienced trainer-guy strides over and holds out his hand.
‘It’s okay,’ he said with a confident grin. ‘I’ll show you how to handle him. He needs a firm hand.’
Em glowered (she isn’t great at hiding her mood.)
‘Let him have a go,’ I said knowing full well what mood Ferb is in. ‘He might listen.’
So, Em glared at me but handed over the lead. Ferb looked at me and her and I know some other experts say that dogs don’t grin but they really do. Ferb grinned and I smiled up at the trainer.
‘You just hold up the treat like this,’ he said showing us how to make him sit—something Ferb has done since about fifteen weeks old—and Ferb doesn’t, instead he primes himself and launches, full Ferb-throttle across the room—the guy flies onto his hands and knees and is dragged along behind one fluffy menace. Then Ferb stops when he gets to the dog, sniffs them, and drags trainer all the way back to us where he sits as innocently as can be.
I swear he was laughing and if you don’t believe me, he then ran through his routine of moves and tricks with ease. I remember one Goldie lover saying that ‘they please you… but they please themselves first,’ but I would change that and say, ‘a Goldie doesn’t do things because you offer rewards or yell at them, a Goldie, like Ferb, does something because he loves you and you seem really delighted when he lifts his paw.’
From a dog’s perspective, imagine it, you sit down and someone gives you chocolate. You lie down and roll over and give them a handshake and you get more chocolate… and when you don’t wet yourself or otherwise… you get more chocolate… and if you are busy running around and playing and you go back to see your mum, you get even more chocolate. Which works, if you’re a chocolate lover, but Ferb can take or leave it… what he really loves is having a hug (and butt scratches.)
We continued to take him to different classes with different experts and trainers which saw highly-experienced trainers stomp in when he wouldn’t come back for recall telling us that he was just… and cue a growl… we had people who’d bred Goldies who weren’t confident about trying to practice recall with him and Mum and Em have some tales of Ferb deciding it was funny not to come back when they were out with him. Other Goldie lovers and ones who train Guide Dogs and other service dogs always gave us a wry smile when we mentioned the experts and recounted hilarious stories of service dogs in training and assessor’s comments.
If Ferb was in Crufts, he’d probably run off with half the assault course, pounce the staff and sit on someone’s lap in the audience then dance with the Collie not the owner. In flyball, he’d cheat and nick the other team’s ball for fun; in agility he’d make the handler run the course and chew the metal jumps but he’d probably diagnose several medical conditions, assist wheelchair users (whether or not they wanted de-shoeing) and then flop on the presenter’s couch to have a snooze with Clare. Yeah, he would definitely steal the show!
What I love about Ferb is that the second I need him, he is there. It’s nothing we’ve trained because I’m not sure how you train a dog to go from joker to fluffy-hero. He will get up, mid-snooze, late into the night and wake me, then he’ll tell me I need to go on four paws and he’ll stick himself under my head and guide me through obstacles galore to the bathroom. Then he’ll go wake Em up and slump back down to snooze as if saying ‘your shift.’
He’s never ever been taught to do that. He just knows and wants to make sure I’m doing okay… no chocolate needed.
Big smiles and love from us!