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.