So. This past weekend.
I-Animal (an animal welfare organization here in Curaçao) had its yearly Animal Day celebration at Wilhelminaplein — an open space, kind of like a city square, in Punda (downtown Willemstad) — and we were invited to join the agility run hosted by Yuka's Hondentraining. It was free of charge, geared to demonstrate the potential any dog, regardless of breed or previous training, has for conquering the agility course — and the fun they have while doing it.
More importantly, I think, it's a great way to prove Cesar Millán's point about training humans (and rehabilitating dogs). Any sort of "dog" training is, at its core, a way to establish (or, ideally, deepen) the bond between human and dog — and the agility run is a fantastic way to demonstrate it.
Out of the seven-pack, I chose to come with Duncan... For several reasons, which I can get into at length for another post, but in short: he's not the best-behaved (so the training would benefit him and me) but not the worst, either (so I could feasibly be setting him up for success); he's also really food-oriented (unlike, for instance, Sam), which makes everyone's life easier. But, mostly, I chose Duncan because we have a bond. A good, strong, special bond.
Bond which would be put to the test.
Photos courtesy of I-Animal and Yuka's Hondentraining.
The first run started well...
|First hurdle cleared on second try. (First try got me a look of total, utter confusion. You want me to do what, now?)|
Then slowed down a bit...
|Third hurdle, and Duncan is... winded already. No, no more jumping, please. |
(Says the dog who jumps up on the patio table—or the couch—or the car—at the first opportunity.)
Okay, Duncan. Here we go.
|No, not around the A-frame.|
|No, no. Don't freak out. It's all good, buddy. You're doing great! Come on!|
But... he wouldn't budge. Just a couple of steps from the top he decided it was all too much and we—and our enthusiasm—could go screw ourselves.
So we enlisted Cor's help.
|That was what Duncan was missing to build up his courage and MAKE IT TO THE TOP!|
|Even with Cor there, it took a little extra convincing (in the form of super healthy and extra yummy treats from the trainer).|
|But he did it. Once he stepped over the top, it was all (sort of) smooth going.|
|He was still lip-licking (see previous photo), but his tail was almost hanging at its normal, relaxed angle.|
And then, after a relaxing jump to celebrate...
He got to do it all over again. *Sigh*
|"You guys. Seriously??"|
|At least he was getting some awesome treats.|
|Keep coming... keep coming...|
|One more step, baby.|
|You own it, Duncan!|
Terrified and all—I mean, look at that face!— he did it. No major cajoling required (we don't count treats as "cajoling"), no turning back, no big drama. This is what it looks like, people: the conquest of fear.
Then came the tunnel run, which he rocked—but, unfortunately, there are no photos to prove it. All in all, though, it was a marvelous day for us. All of us. Duncan is still riding that high of facing down his fears. And our bond was not just strengthened but widened to include Cor, which makes me very, very happy.
It's good to be back, y'all.