Monday, April 14, 2008


Five weeks ago, I went to Plant City, Florida to leave my young dog with this guy. If you go to the link you'll discover he's a multiple world champion competitor/dog trainer in my chosen dog sport.

One of my very favorite things about this sport, is how easy it is to "get to" the people you admire. Say, you or your child wants to be a professional baseball player. Can you just pick up the phone and call Barry Bonds, or Mark Maguire or Derek Jeter and say "hey can I come train/work with you?"

No? Well in my sport, you can, and I did. Just like that. Picked up the phone, said I wanted to come and bang. I was in. What's not to love about that?

So, I took Mojo to the seminar back in January, because even a novice handler like myself was seeing that at 10 months, Mojo was going to be a dog of the wholelotta variety. I worried that I was perhaps, in over my head.

If I tried to compare Mojo to my old, faithful (and first working german shepherd) Apache, I'd tell you they are night and day. Apache lives and loves 'the game', the dog will attempt to turn anything he can, a walk, a trip out to the mailbox, taking the trash out, into a game of some kind. He'll pick up bricks, logs, plastic bottles, and try to draw me into a game of fetch. He loves everyone and everything. He's weathered countless babysitting/visiting dogs, and somewhere around 2 dozen foster dogs traipsing through his home after Hurricane Katrina, he went to work with me when I worked in veterinary medicine, he was a blood donor, and a 'practice' dog for new techs learning to find pulses, veins, and muscles. He did every bit of it without complaint. He loves the sticky hands of the children in my neighborhood, and greets everyone with ears back and tail wagging, especially if he thinks you might be talked into a game of fetch. He is the very best sort of fellow.

Mojo, while no less affectionate or social, is a much more serious dog. He will be more of the stereotypical german shepherd dog. He is/will be more aloof with visitors and much more "my dog" not that he won't be nice, he just won't really care about other people. In work, Apache always looked for my approval, Mojo, on the other hand, barely knows that I'm still there when we're working. He is all business. It is not better or worse, really, it is just different. And different means, I will be learning a lot from this dog. He will make me a better dog trainer and he will likely make a fool of me on more than one occasion. There is nothing like dog sport to keep you humble.

I talked with Ivan last week, and after I processed everything he told me, I have reached the conclusion that I cannot wait.

I leave on Thursday, and will spend the weekend working with Ivan and my dog, and then I'll return home with my dog.

Over the last 5 weeks, I got my running program back on track, dropped 15 pounds, spent time with new friends (horseback riding - yay!), did yard work and organized closets.

It was time well spent, but now, I really do just want my dog back.

The schedule for training sessions will be one early, and then a long break during the hottest part of the day, and then an evening session. The hotel is nice, and I hope to spend some of that long break in the sun by the pool with a book a good friend (who was foolish enough to agree to come along). A mini vacation interrupted by dog training, and I won't even pretend that isn't my idea of perfect.