An Outdoorsy Kind of Pup

It is known that I am a country type of gal.  I was raised in the foothills of the North Cascade Mountains.  I went through hunters education when I was 12.  I started fishing when I was old enough to hold a pole by myself and I’ve been shooting guns for about the same amount of time.  I endure short day trips to the city, but living 45 minutes away from town is just fine by me.  My brother and my dad are also avid sportsmen.  They both hunt archery, and this past winter my brother was drawn for a special late hunt.  He harvested an incredible buck  in Eastern Washington, and he wanted to get it scored to see if it was record book worthy.  My family hunts as a means of supplying food for ourselves and loved ones.  We don’t hunt for the sake of trophy antlers, they are just an added bonus.  We consume as much of the animal as possible, and we pride ourselves on being ethical Sportsmen (and woman).  This is what we do, and we love it.

While I was at Cabela’s with friends my dad and brother were enjoying a Sportsman’s show about 2 1/2 hours from our home.  He had taken his trophy to be scored and ended up entering it into their trophy competition.  While I was leaving the outing, I got a frantic call from my brother asking me if I would come down with him the next day because he was first in his division and had a chance at some awesome prizes.  Knowing I only had a few days left of January to get some outings in, I couldn’t resist the chance.  So, the next morning we packed up and headed down to Puyallup!

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 When we got there, Helaine was incredibly distracted.  Because this was a Sportsman’s show, people were allowed to bring their pet dogs including their hunters.  Helaine still struggles with excitement in the first moments of a new outing.  She kind of loses her puppy mind and needs to regain her focus.  That is escalated when that outing includes dogs of all types.  In most scenarios, Helaine is very good at ignoring the other dogs, and as the day progressed she didn’t even realize they were there.  But in the very beginning, it was quite difficult and we (I) decided that it was time to break out the gentle leader.  I’m thankful that I don’t have to use it at all times, but I’m also happy that Helaine doesn’t mind it for those times it’s an absolute requirement.

 While out, I realized that I don’t work her in the “side” position nearly enough.  The side position is exactly like the “heel” position, except it’s on the right side, rather than the left.  I quickly learned that she works SO WELL in the side position.  Almost better than when she’s heeling.  I have been taking so many opportunities to work in this position because I LOVE how dreamy it feels having a perfectly placed puppy the entire time!

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Here she is, working in the side position.

 My girl loves to work, she really does.  But this outing seemed to be more challenging for her than usual.  My guess is because it was so crowded and so stimulating.  There were so many sights, sounds and smells.  We stopped for a while in front of a man who was selling big game calls.  He would let out a bull elk bugle, and Helaine would just stop and stare.  She was mesmerized, but not so entranced that I couldn’t get her attention again.  There are a lot of things we’ve been working on finishing, and her eye contact is one of them.  I’m happy to report that she got a solid ‘A in eye contact on this trip.

While this trip was so good for her for so many reasons, there came a time where I could tell that she was entirely overstimulated.  This is not conducive to a good training experience, so instead of pushing her further and longer into the busyness inside the buildings, we sat and observed the passersby that were coming and going up the stairs and escalator.  *Note: we are not allowed to train ON the escalator, therefore there wasn’t anything of that sort happening.  We merely watched and listened to the sounds and the movement. 

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Practicing “Under!”

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 Patiently watching and listening.

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There wasn’t any solicitation from Helaine for love or pats, but this blob couldn’t resist her cuteness.

 This outing was more difficult on me, than it was her I think.  People can be so stinking rude.  I cannot tell you how many times people decided it was perfectly okay to use their legs to push my dog (who was as close to me and as far out of the way as possible) out of their way.  I understand that it was crowded and busy, but it is never appropriate to push any dog out of the way, and especially not one who is assumed to be working.  It also drove me batty when people tried to nonchalantly pat their leg and make kissing noises to try to distract, or call them over for attention.  Thankfully Helaine is finally in a spot in her training where that kind of behavior isn’t something that gets her, but don’t think I don’t notice people!  I see EVERYTHING.  Even that drive by petting from the 40-something who was trying to sell leather purses.  I know what you did.

At the end of the day, we admired the trophy elk that were on display.  We had a lot of time to kill to find out how my brother fared in his division.  Helaine is so small to begin with, but when compared to a giant elk mount, she looks even smaller!

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 See!  She looks like a baby!

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It was a lot of waiting to hear where my brother was placed.  He ended up getting first in his division, and won a medal!  We still haven’t gotten a picture of him with his award and Helaine, but that is in the works, I promise.  Helaine relaxed at my feet, and during the cheering and applause, she stayed quiet and content.  I adore her curiosity and how she stays alert, but isn’t anxious.

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I love Helaine! She’s an outdoorsy kind of pup!

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One thought on “An Outdoorsy Kind of Pup

  1. Congrats to your brother ~ what an exciting accomplishment. And YAY to Helaine for being there with your family on such a big day. It is amazing what comes out of people when they see a working dog/puppy in program. My favorite behavior is people Barking at the puppy. Literally. Barking. And the lack of response from our puppies makes it perfectly entertaining. 😉

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