My experience with Helaine over the last six weeks has been quite the rollercoaster. Between the initial sleepless nights, tummy troubles, incessant whining and barking while in the crate (while I’m away), and her picking anything and everything up off the ground to chomp on, I’ve had my work cut out for me to say the least. But the last six weeks have brought to much joy and such a sense of accomplishment already.
After making it through the “get to you know you” period, our bond really started to strengthen. I will admit, the first couple of weeks were spent in an overly exhausted stupor, and they were also filled with many tears of frustration as I woke up every 2 hours with a puppy suffering from the yucks. I’m so glad those days are behind us now. We both feel so much better now that we can sleep through the night. I’m a girl who likes my sleep, and I know Helaine is a fan of her sweet slumber as well. Now if only I could get her to quit singing the songs of her people at 5:30 AM on a weekend, things would be even sweeter. One step at a time I guess.
One thing I have had plenty of success in, is training. Helaine is incredible. She loves loves loves to learn and she is so proud when she learns something new. While we have stuggled with her whining while cradling in class, and of course the crate freak outs when I’m not home, everything else has come with relative ease. I feel so fortunate that I live in an area that has a contract trainer available. While I drive 1 hour and 15 minutes to class (one way) every week, I wouldn’t trade the knowledge of our trainer, or the companionship and sense of family amongst the other raisers for anything. Our trainer…she’s awesome. She intimidates me quite a bit, but she is truly lovely. She has taught me so much in such a short amount of time, I often feel like I’m new to this whole dog training thing even though it’s been 14 years.
I’m proud to say, that Helaine has learned 25 of her required commands already, and we just introduced two more in class this past Wednesday. While she is no where near considered a master, she knows what they are, how to do them and ultimately how to get the food! She can execute most of them with very little correction while we’re at home. When we get to class, she loses her mind a bit. For example, she absolutely refused to down or roll during our last class. Boy was that frustrating. She would start to lay down, then look up at me like “okay I did it see?” I’ll cut her some slack. Afterall, she’s only 15 weeks!
My proudest class moment to date happened during our class on Wednesday. We were practicing many different commands while having a little bit of fun with the obstacles all around the room. The final command we were asked to do was the Bed command. One by one, our trainer walked around the room and asked us to do Bed. Well, when it was our turn, I was initially worried because Helaine had started anticipating what I was going to have her do. She broke the heel position before I had a chance to give her the command, so I quickly asked her to Heel and apologized to our trainer for her anticipation. What happened next was a delightful surprise. All it took was “Helaine, Bed!” and from two feet away, Helaine stood up, walked to the mat, and completed the command perfectly. No body queues, no corrections, she just up and did it. That was total redemtption for refusing to down and roll. We earned what our trainer dubbed, High Five of the night. I was pretty stoked, and I was beaming inside and out. She is my good girl.
So even though we’ve had our fair share of struggles in such a short amount of time, she is progressing well in her training and I’m learning something new every day. Struggles turn to strength, and I know that we are definitely on the right track to growing a strong, confident and fabulous puppy with a burning desire to learn and work. I am so proud and honored to be captain of Team Helaine.