For those of us lucky enough to live with dogs, how many times do we find ourselves saying, “Wow, I really learned something today.” That couldn’t have been more true this entire weekend. Here I am prancing around the ring, and none so gracefully, with little Ike looking splendid but seemingly bored, and generally indifferent. Why does it appear that he is only just tolerating this instead of enjoying it? Why doesn’t he seem enthused like all the other dogs to be here? Does he not have a show temperment? Why can’t he hold still on the table?
Out of breath, sweaty forehead, hair flying everywhere and in disheveled frumpy chalk covered dog show suit that won’t stay up with second place ribbon in hand, I pose these exact questions to one of my dog show mentors for the weekend. She tilts her head for a moment like a Shiba when you say “Cheese”, and then demands that I give her my dog. Uh oh, did I just lose my dog priveledge with my general ignorance?
Reluctantly I retrieved Ike from his “house”, and the instant the lead touched Cheryl’s fingers, he was a different dog. He smiled, he wagged his tail. She gaited with him and he was the one prancing, not the handler. She lovingly said as she peered into his eyes “Ike, you such a good boy!” and whispered other sweet nothings that only his little ears could hear. His little neck formed such a graceful arch as he proudly showed himself off to his new favorite person and all his muscles strained to hear more of her sweet, sweet words.
While Ike was floating, Cheryl looked over at me, my jaw on the floor, and said, “This dog knows what to do. You just have to talk to him. And don’t be so tense, he will feel that.” She was absolutely correct. This dog is 2 years old. This was not his first time at a show, but it was my first time showing him. The handling classes were for my learning, not his! I haven’t been letting him think for or enjoy himself, I’ve been all stressed out trying to make him do it a certain way when he already knew how. He is a college graduate/PhD of show training being forced to repeat elementary school! Of course he wasn’t really having a lot of fun with me! I need to learn to surrender to the Shiba and learn some of that smooth talking. Sorry buddy!
Ike, you really taught me something today. Wow, I was schooled by a Shiba!