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August 22, 2020: The Squalor Holler Dog and Pony Show

A few years back, at the Karen Pryor clicker training clinic in Portland, Oregon, horse clicker trainer Alexandra Kurland remarked that most horse owner’s dogs were not well trained, the inference being that horse people ,of course, like having dogs around, but they don’t have the time to work with them. I silently agreed with her when she said this – our dogs have not been as well trained as our horses.

Ryder, Rainbow, and Jenna all came to us as young dogs, Ryder and Rainbow’s background were unknown. We knew of Jenna’s background. She received little, if any dog socialization training.

Mini husky comes to check out Shadow

In our case, the reason why our dogs have not been well trained hasn’t been a lack of interest, but rather a lack of time. For a while we had five horses here. Hrimmi was then a newborn. So I was riding four horses daily. The dogs often accompanied us. Jenna would stay close because she suffered from separation anxiety. Rainbow wandered far. Ryder wandered close.

So now we have this puppy, Shadow, who of course, already has us wrapped around her mid-sized tan paw. I am determined to do well by her training wise. Thought embodies itself in language. I am thinking of the activities around here embodying the dog and pony show.

I can tell you this – a dog AND pony show is a LOT of work. Today was more on the dog end of things. Tomorrow will be more on the horse end of things. I am stretching myself a bit animal thin. Play time with Shadow takes place now as I’m doing chores. Today she rode the rake when I was cleaning the goat pen, chased the lunge line when I was taking it to the truck, and fetched the ball several times as I was taking the horse feed buckets back up to main cabin. The horses, being larger, need more undivided attention, and they usually get it.

Last night we returned to the Better Companion dog training facility, this time for dog socialization/play hour in the Betco Dog Park. I have to say, I now know what soccer moms feel like. There I was, standing in front of the corner safety area, ready to fend off other dogs if Shadow came rushing back to it.

Shadow got chased by the other dogs when she ventured out too far – she spent the rest of the hour in between Pete and me, watching the other dogs. Every so often, she raced out; then when dogs approached, raced back to us. I said later that her behavior seemed very much in character. She tends to observe before taking action.

The other dog owners went to the far fence and talked amongst themselves. They were not as outgoing or as magnanimous as their dogs. I can understand this – right now we are interlopers.

I was aware that time spent going to the dog park was time that would otherwise have been spent riding horses or doing horse agility. I am, I realized, just going to have to strike a balance between the prey and predator animals in my life. If I fail, I’ll at least have a fun time doing this.

Next: 232. 8/23/20: Lessons Learned

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