A Dog Teaches: Clear Focus on Desire Makes it Attainable
I took dogs to The Museum of the Weird for the first time last Thursday. What an excruciating experience! Normally I blast up there on my super-fun-to-ride $200 motorcycle, park right in front of the museum, perpendicular to the sidewalk of course, because when one does it that way one parks absolutely free(!), unload the bike, walk two steps into the museum, say a quick hi and head up the stairs. with a light load.
Not this time. I had to drive my van, a gas guzzler, find a parking spot big enough for it (three blocks away from the museum), pay for parking (a total of $6 for the night-WAHHHH!), actually lug my load several hundred times farther than normal, and then up the flight of stairs. I didn’t even mention the torture of having to sit there and talk to every young girl that bent over to pet the dogs. Oh well, that’s why they call it work! Actually, I didn’t mention it because there were no girls, outside of Sahara, soon to be discussed. But it’s worth all of this trouble (to me!) to play with the dogs in a new super-distracting environment.
With just Jingles and Skeeter there, I was able to really focus on them. Lately, neither one of them have been getting the one-on-one daddy time it takes to really hone skills, but for different reasons. Jingles, because her routines are already pretty dang good and include a story that I like, a key element to it getting into the show, for sure! Skeeter, because, well, I got him when I thought the world was going to end (previously discussed). Ha ha-actually it’s because, well, I’m going to say it. He was an only dog and wants to work by himself. He hasn’t quite joined the family yet-“And Circus is all about family;” an actual quote from Circus Impressario Giovanni Zoppe of The Zoppe Family Circus.
I think the new puppies will ingratiate themselves with Skeeter. He can almost stand it when they play bow in front of him and he loves having them chase him around the yard. Another reason he isn’t quite in the show?
His tricks aren’t all that good. And I’m sorry Skeeter, but this is Circus Chickendog and if you want a solo turn, you’re going to have to have something better than the worst thing that’s currently in the show. Ha ha-no, that one I’m serious about.
I’ve actually been working hard with Skeeter on one of my favorite tricks, jumping into my arms. I bridged it in a very calculated fashion (sitting on successfully taller stacks of conglomerations of atoms stacked on a chair) from his wanting to, and very covertly succeeding at, jumping into my lap whenever I was sitting.
One of the workers at the museum, who I’ll call Sahara, basically fell in love with Skeeter. I have no idea why. I mean there must be some kind of kismet there. Sahara kept on saying over and over that she was going to steal him-like I hadn’t heard her the first six times. After awhile it got a little creepy and I literally told her that I was considering a restraining order. Let me just say, if only to encourage Sahara to do the right thing, or at least not the wrong thing this one time, by which I mean she needs to restrain herself every second for the rest of her life, I have full faith that Sahara is a good person and I have nothing to fear from her. Sahara, in fact, is wildly popular, works hard, and can expect to win anything her heart desires through diligent focus on her goals. That is the kind of person I really think Sahara is. Plus, I was relieved to later learn, she wants a Great Dane so a Papillon is totally inappropriate for her.
Skeeter fell in love with Sahara, too. It was like she was his long-lost mommy, which now that I think about it, could be another type-casting on Skeeter’s part. I always think of the owner-surrender, evil person (the person that abandoned Skeeter), as an obese, old, repugnant, smelly, super-disgusting fugitive from society. But I suppose it could be a young, fit, super-friendly, gregarious, accepted in certain circles, certainly not decent ones, ”person,” and by “person,” I do mean to imply that she couldn’t be fully human yet. Ha ha.
Anyway, Skeeter had been working on four tricks upstairs on the stage. Jumping into my arms was the big one-the other ones he has down cold, at least in non-distracting environments. When we took a break and we were visiting Sahara, I was holding him in my arms when he did a little growl at someone outside the window. Bam! I put him right down on the ground-it’s just what happens and he knows it. He’s learning to control himself, and as fast as a click happens to mark a behavior, he gets set down when he growls-do what I want and you get a click, something I don’t want? Time out. The rules are clear. He probably came from an indulgent home-you know how little discipline those “people” have-you know the (I want to say “ones” but can’t) multitudes, actually.
Finding himself on the ground after his little outburst, he looks up at me for a second and then walks right over to Sahara, who is asking why I put him down, and jumps up into her arms for the first of what I’m sure will be many times; and he does this so adroitly, on this first attempt, that she just instinctively grabs him right out of midair, she’s totally surprised to be holding him, and then there that little miscreant is, right in her arms being cuddled.
Talk about self-reinforcing behavior!