A Small Victory


For those of you keeping tabs on the 'Cheyenne-the-dog-with-issues' thread in my life, last night we had our first training class together. The first class was a lecture, me only. Then we had two weeks to work with our dog on three commands: Heel, sit, and sit/stay. Even though Cheyenne and I trained very hard at home, and even though she did really well, I was certain we'd bomb in class. She has issues, you know. Firstly, she's a creature of habit. Change freaks her out. Secondly, she doesn't like being seperated from our other, older dog, Billie. So going someplace she's never been before without Billie was a double whammy. Then there were her nine other, slightly, out-of-control classmates. Nine dogs with their own set of issues.

There were six dogs that much smaller than Cheyenne, three that were much bigger. She trembled harder with the arrival of each dog, no matter their size, her tail tucked betwen her legs, her head buried against my legs. I felt so bad for her. I fully expected her to have an accident of some kind due to nerves. She's done it before. I'd prepared by packing a tote bag of cleaning essentials. But you know what? She didn't have an accident, or throw up, or bark uncontrollably, or refuse to cooperate. She did great!

Sure, she broke her 'sit' a few times, and I had to push her butt back down. A few times she kind of cowered, and I had to help her sit up straight and proud. But, as instructed by the trainer, I was calm and confident and that trickled down to my nervous pup. She'd look up at me and I'd smile down at her. She sat. She stayed. She heeled. She wasn't perfect, but she tried really hard, and even won praise from the instructor. Let me tell you, I was bursting with pride. I know she was scared, but she loves me and wanted to earn my praise, and boy, did she!

I know we'll have our ups and downs. The destructive chewing and nervous behavior won't go away after one successful class. But we're making progress. I can envision peace and harmony in the Ciotta household. I know it's silly. It was just a dog obedience class. But last night Cheyenne and I were a team. We worked together, and we walked away with a sense of accomplishment. Funny how the smallest things can light up your life.

Comments

Arianna Hart said…
Oh honey, I should have warned you not to name your dog Cheyenne. My Cheyenne has "issues" too, although she's gotten a lot better as she's gotten older.

If I could only teach her to stop howling like she's being speared with hot pokers every time she's not near me. . .

Can't wait to see you!! Only 2 1/2 weeks away! Yikes!
Ari
Cyn said…
Congrats to you and Cheyenne! What a sweet story this morning. I hope to one day meet Cheyenne and she can show off her new skills!
Alison Kent said…
The dh and I may be taking over the training and care of my daughter's 6 month old, uh, puppy (Geisha) - who already weighs 50#. Unfortunately, our own 12 year old dog has never been around other dogs at all, and he's not too happy. I am feeling your pain, Beth, LOL! But I do so love it when they get those big sloppy grins on their faces knowing they've done good!
Mary Stella said…
Way to go, Cheyenne and Beth! B, I bet you'll continue to see improvement in Cheyenne. Not only will she benefit from her own growing confidence in her ability to do what you ask and earn your praise, but you two get to spend quality time together during class and during practice sessions at home. Good job!
Tori Lennox said…
Aww, I'm so proud of Cheyenne! :)
ElsieHogarth said…
Congratulations to you both. Slowly but surely you will see the progress. Hey, Cheyenne made it through the first day of class and that is an achievement.
Anna Lucia said…
WELL DONE Cheyenne! You're such a good girl!

And well done Beth, you did good! :-D

Stay calm, and confident that she will succeed, and she will be, too.
Beth Ciotta said…
Thank you for your enthusiasm and support everyone! Cheyenne appreciates it, too. :) I've told so many horror stories about her. It felt good to brag about her this time around. I was/am so proud. This week our homework is down (which she does already) and down/stay. The staying part will take some extra were work. But we're up to the challenge!
Beth Ciotta said…
Alison, we have an older dog, Billie. She's 13. She was an only dog until this past fall when we brought home Cheyenne. She wasn't too thrilled about the bratty little sister at first. But now she tolerates Cheyenne pretty well. They even play together at times. Good luck with Geisha!!!
Taylor said…
Great dog story, Beth. Did ya ever hear of the Dog Whisperer? I know, it sounds ridiculous but it's a show on the National Geographic channel! People exhibit their dog's odd, wild, or downright dangerous behavior and a man named Cesar Millan (The said Whisperer) examines them and sets them right. By god does this man really do it! He truly is a dog whisperer (The usual problem is they don't get walked enough) but it's still an enjoyable show. Check it out sometime if you haven't already. You might identify for some of these dog owners, as I have at times.
chryscat said…
I seriously need to haul my part pit/lab to the obedience school. That boy does NOT listen. Loves to ride in the car. But no matters whatsoever. *grins*
May work on that this summer.
Crystal*
Stacie said…
Aw, congrats to you two! That's a lot of progress. I hope Cheyenne got a cookie! ;)

Maybe I should enroll MY dog in obedience classes...she bolts out the door and doesn't stop. *sigh* She does have a nice little arsenal of useless, attention-getting tricks. I'd trade them all for a simple "STOP!"
Gina said…
Congrats to both you and Cheyenne. I know how much you love your pets, so I'm sure you're quite proud of even this small accomplishment of Cheyenne's. One small step is all it takes to start Cheyenne down the path to being a happier and healthier dog.
Bob said…
Congratulations. Being in the class with other dogs helps, too. She'll begin to look forward to the time, both because it's with you, one of her two fave people, and with the other dogs, beings from her own species.
Beth Ciotta said…
More shouts of support! Thank you all. Cheyenne sends you a sloppy puppy kiss. ;)

Taylor, I think I caught part of that show a few nights ago, or at least the concept was similar. A man who goes to people's houses and teaches them how to tame their out-of-control dogs. It was fascinating.

Stacie and Crystal, yup. Sounds like your doggies would benefit from some training. See if your town offers community classes. That's what I'm doing and it's quite affordable. Good luck!
Roni said…
COngrats! I'm sure Cheyenne will start to enjoy class and feel great pride in her achievements, which will spill into other areas. Sorry for the late post!

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