Thursday, January 17, 2008

Pack Dynamics, part I

After spending my entire childhood with a brown miniature poodle who came to be known as John Dog, I decided I wanted a brown mini of my own. I had even picked out a name, "Hershey"

The DH just would NOT be seen walking a little "froo-froo" dog. He wanted a big dog that he could wrestle with, a "manly" dog, so to speak. So, we compromised and began the search for our first standard poodle, a brown standard. We were young and stupid about such things, and bought her out of the paper from a backyard breeder. We got her at a very young age, because the *breeder* refused to hold the puppies during the July 4th weekend, and was going to sell them to anyone to get rid of them by then. When we picked Hershey up, she could easily fit in the palm of Gene's hand. She was terribly anemic and unhealthy.

Thankfully, with much TLC, she grew into a happy, healthy 23" tall, 44 pound standard poodle. She is, also, the "Queen" of our household. Even as a pup, she didn't much care to have any attention from us. If she were curled up on the couch and you went to pet her, she would grumble and move on. She was, at the time, an only dog, and the target of all of our affection, much to her disdain.

We started obedience with her, and that's when we found out that poodles, and evidently the brown ones in particular, are born to entertain. So, whilst I'm heeling, counting to myself, and concentrating on what the judge was saying, Hershey is standing in the middle of the ring, posing. Oh, and don't let someone snicker at it, if so..GAME ON! My most embarrassing obedience moment has to be when doing the figure 8 exercise in UKC open obedience. There are two human "posts" who stand roughly 4 feet apart. You must walk around the "posts in a figure 8 pattern, your dog maintainging proper heel position the entire time. One judge liked to do 1 1/2 circuits around the figure 8 before calling you to halt. When she did, Hershey continued on, directly towards one of the posts, nudged her "hello" in the crotch. Then jumped up, paws on either shoulder, and gave her a big smack on the lips. That was our last obedience trial.

On to agility. It seems that, at some point in her agility career, Hershey developed a fear of yellow paint. You know, the yellow contact zones on the Dogwalk, Teeter and A-frame? To Heshey, these were "no fly zones". She would creep just to the line between the color and the yellow, look over at me, wag that tail, and FLY through the air. Landing on the ground, and smiling up at me like, "Did you see what I did? That was COOL, wasn't it?" I would go to agility trials, check in at the gate, and people who didn't even know me would say, "Oh, you're Hershey's mom?" What could I say? Yes, I belong to the Queen.

So, after roughly 6 years of watching Hershey do her own thing, we decided that it was time for Hershey to say "Adeiu" to the world of agility, and return to her first love- being a couch potato. But, we take solice in this one fact:

Old Agility Dogs Never Die

They Just RE-Tire

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