Monday, March 26, 2007

Happy Birthday little bean!

Born March 26, 2002. She's five today. She looked so innocent then--sweet baby girl. She used to sleep with her tongue poked out just the tiniest bit. Every once in awhile she still does.

She always was a good actress.

Tough, driven, determined. Screams through life at 90 miles an hour and lord help anybody who gets in the way. Hardest dog I've ever trained. I sometimes say that Cala is the dog that makes me look like a bad dog trainer.

I think the honest truth is that Cala is the dog that proves I still have a long way to go as a dog trainer. The truth is she really does care about pleasing me and hates when I get mad at her but she just always forgets that until she's in the middle of what she wanted to do.

Cala is probably the smartest dog I've ever owned, and I've never owned a dumb one. Clicker trained and shaped, given the opportunity to think and problem solve, she demonstrates both the best and worst qualities of that technique. Seeing a conundrum she will actively work to solve it, trying the most obvious course first, then puzzling through all other permutations. And "give up" is just not in her vocabulary. Unfortunately a lot of her effort goes into things like stealing kleenex, eating paper (she ate, entirely, one of Zipper's show photos), and endless permutations of "get Mom to throw the toy." This dog would probably die happy if I just threw a toy for her 12 hours a day, seven days a week. Well I take that back. If I threw the ball 6 hours and did agility the other 6 hours.

No one who has watched Cala on an agility course ever forgets her. Yodeling and screaming with each step, her motto is "more is better." She once racked up 15 faults on an Open Jumpers course, completing her own version of the course twice and within course time. The judge told me she got carpal tunnel from raising her hands so much.

So baby girl, happy birthday. May we enjoy each day we have together. If you keep showing me that life is something to be attacked at full speed with a yell, maybe I'll finally learn the lesson myself.

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