Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Lying Down On the Job

Alfie sitting in the car as we load up to go on an outing

I've shared before how much Alfie likes his work, and he does.  But the whole truth is, he likes part of his work...the active part!  He loves commands like "let's go!", "find the...", "steady," "heel," and "watch me." He likes getting out and going places, and he loves get the picture.  But oh man, he does not like to lie still and wait.  And guess what, Alf...that's a big part of being a guide dog!

So yesterday on our family trip to the library, instead of browsing for books as usual, I just had him find me a seat, and we practiced down/stay.  The whole time.  He was one unhappy camper!  He did a nice "tuck in" (getting under my seat and out of the way)...

Alfie lying down between my feet as I sit in a chair; most of his body is under the chair

...but then spent the rest of his time undoing it with his jack-in-the-box impression.  He'd sit up, I'd frown & give him the hand signal to "down"...he'd do it for about a minute...then sit up hopefully, as if to say, "Well, now can we do something fun?"  I'd "down" him again, a couple of minutes would pass, and - pop! - up would come his furry face asking, "OK, how 'bout now?"  Sigh...I could tell this was going to be a long lesson!

I also have a hunch that Alfie, being the assertive/dominant personality that he is (yep -- he looks like a teddy bear but looks would be deceiving!), is especially reluctant to keep a down/stay in public because it is such a submissive posture for a dog.  He'd yawn, and snort, and pant, and show me in a ton of little doggy ways that he'd rather not do this.  Those of you who know me...know that only strengthened my resolve!

Alfie in a down, but now he's turned around so he's facing me and his body and tail are in the walkway
All right Alfie...we'll be here just as long as it takes!

Well, he's far from perfect, but we did make progress!  All in all, I felt it was a good day and made sure that Alfie knew I was happy when he did the right thing.  After the kids checked out their books, I rewarded him for his patience by letting him find me some trash cans on the way out.  That got his tail wagging!

...But the funniest thing to me was how he acted when we got home.  He was completely zapped.  Now, this is a puppy who can literally walk for miles, come home and play fetch, and never miss a beat.  But that "down/stay" business exhausted him!  He found a quiet corner, curled up, and was out like a light. 

Alfie asleep at home -- all you can really distinguish is his nose -- the rest of him just a dark mass of curly fur
It's harder than you think!  Really!


Toby- The dog with a blog said...

Toby LOVES to sleep while in town:)
Though his fav part is the walking, or answering to a command!

Good luck Alfie!

Toby's Raiser

Erin and her Dogs said...

Sounds like Alfie and Pompei have been reading the same book! Pompei did the same thing to me last week at school (posted on my blog) but I knew he was bored/full of energy and I should have made sure he was tired enough to handle the length of time we were going to be there. :)Lesson learned!

Mimi and CC Cabana said...

Cabana was not good at staying still in one position either! And tucking in? No way, she's always gotta be out in the middle of the aisle.

Good for you for introducing it early and long with Alfie. You're right, that's half of the job description!!

Alphini's Puppy Raiser said...

It's nice to have such empathetic readers! :-) We'll keep you updated on his progress in this area!

Cassie said...

Alfie is so cute!