Thursday, June 19, 2008

Latest Adventures From Camp Mimi

We've had Mimi for about 6 weeks now. Let's see -- on the good side, she doesn't bite me anymore. . . Also, she's a bit more attentive, particularly when one of us is holding a bit of chicken for her. She has a wonderful new game, which I'm sure is wildly illegal with the doggy rights enforcers: she leaps up at a ball suspended about four feet off the ground, mouthing it until it comes off the tree so that she can run around with it. She eventually demolished the ball, at which point we hung the "Pup Treads" tire at about the same height. She ignored that in favor of the shreds of rubber that had been the original ball until I had a brilliant idea. I stuffed the remains of the ball inside the tire and let Mimi leap at the combination until the ball fell out. After that, she's happy to leap at the tire!

The reason I say that this leaping game is wildly illegal is that we got a lecture from some people at a local kennel. I won't mention who they were; there are still rules about defamation, after all. Husband and wife -- I'll call them Barbie & Ken. Barbie just LOVES animals; she used to be a veterinarian's assistant. She didn't impress either Starman or me when she said happily that she's the one who yells at their dogs. Um, isn't Ken supposed to be the expert at training dogs? we wondered silently. So where does the yelling come in? Strike one against them.

Starman had found these people when he looked for obedience trainers in the phone book. He spoke with Ken on the phone. After a brief description of Mimi, Starman explained that we wanted obedience classes. (You know, the ones where several owner & dog combos work together on sit, stay, down, heel, etc.) "I never talk about classes until after the evaluation," Ken explained. His plan was, we'd leave Mimi there for 24 hours, he'd work with her, and then he'd tell us what needed to be done. So we loaded up her crate, toys, food, lead, etc., etc., and off we went. We got there a bit late, but Ken wasn't there; he was at his cardiologist. We waited, making chitchat with Barbie, for a long time, but no Ken. "That's okay," Barbie soothed. "Call tomorrow afternoon and Ken will tell you when to pick her up." That worked for us; I had to see a client nearby, and the route home took us close to Barbie & Ken. But when we called, Ken refused to talk to Starman because he was eating his lunch. All we wanted was a time to get there so we'd know if we had time for lunch, but no, he couldn't talk even that long. And he wasn't very polite about it. Strike two.

In the end, it turned out that Ken doesn't do classes (!) -- he takes a dog and works with it for two full weeks, then hands it back to the owner. This makes no sense to me at all; isn't the owner the one who really needs the training? Strike three and yer out!

Otherwise, we were lectured about heart worm (not much of a risk here, we decided after consulting our vet), gastric torsion (say what?), and back injuries from the leaping mentioned above. Okay, so maybe that's not the best exercise. We chatted with him for a while, then wrote a bizarrely large check (say, quadruple the cost of a night's boarding), and drove away with our dog. We did get some things out the experience: We were assured that Mimi is wonderful, given a suggestion for housebreaking, shown how to put a choke chain on properly, and told Barbara Lampman's name. That last item was worth the price of admission, although we could have found her more cheaply, I suppose.

I honestly don't think Ken even evaluated Mimi. At no time did he say what he'd done with her, what paces she was put through. Enh -- who cares. I called Barbara Lampman, who does puppy kindergarten (Mimi's too old for that) and basic obedience classes. One's starting next Monday, and as it conflicts with Starman's yoga, I'll be doing the classes with Mimi. Then on Tuesday, I can show Starman what we learned.

But while we're waiting for that, here are some photos showing Mimi being calm. Calm because she's gnawing on her rawhide bone . . .

Calm because Starman's exercised the heck out of her in 90-degree heat . . .

And calm because she's not stupid enough to do anything other than lie down when it's that warm. We love a calm dog!

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