Saturday, April 04, 2009

Do a demo for us!

My van, fully loaded. There are two Dobermans and a Min Pin under there, and you can't even see the other tunnel...

Now that it's out of the van, it looks a bit more organized.

Ginger takes a break in a lull between crowds.

Jura goes after a thrown toy as a reward.

Vegas, Mr. Suave and Persuasive. Do you have a treat for me? I am starving you know.

"Come do a demo for us" they say. "It's for a great cause, and you'll get a lot of exposure."

And they're right of course. It is always for a great cause, and it is super exposure for our training center. And we enjoy doing them. So we usually do at least two or three a year, and yet we also turn down several others each year. Why?

Because holy beejeebus, it's a crapload of work.

Today, we had a demo at the MU Veterinary Teaching Hospital Open House. We were set for three performances of 10-15 minutes each at 10:30, 11:30, and 12:30. For this Open House, we spent several hours copying brochures and locating our other paperwork (enrollment forms, business cards, the form for our new summer camp for kids, etc). Then we went to the training center last night and pulled two sets of 6 weave poles, 8 metal 4' solid-base jumps, two 15' tunnels, 8 tunnel weights, poles and bars, 20 sets of ring gates, feet to go on the ring gates so they'd stand up, the CCSC sign (digging frantically in the closet to find the darn thing), one of our exercise balls, rally signs and stands, cones, and chairs. I also made sure we had sun screen, paperclips and clipboards. For the dogs I had treats and their training bags, but that stays pretty prepped.

Then this morning we had to load it all. Two other people had already loaded the gates, rally stuff, and paperwork. I arrived at our building before 8:00 a.m. and loaded the two tunnels, weights, four of the metal jumps, all of the jump bars and both sets of weave poles. All on top of three dogs. I found I couldn't fit the rest of the metal jumps in, so instead went and pulled four more jumps, our freestanding wing jumps.

Off to breakfast, then we arrived at the site at 9:30. After some confusion about where we actually were supposed to be, we now had to unload everything and set up our rings. We started setting ring gates only to find that one Bachelor's Degree (me) and one PhD (Ginger) can't count for snot. We needed 26 sets of ring gates for the size rings we wanted, not 20. But having learned the hard way that at demos you always gate everything, we made our rings smaller instead of leaving gates out. If you don't gate everything, people try to drag their dogs through tunnels and over jumps willy-nilly, willing or not. Since we don't like to see dogs traumatized for life by well-meaning but naive owners, we gate. Today we also had to deal with high winds, so we ended up using tracking stakes from Steve and Jamie's van to help hold things down.

So after almost another hour of setup, we were finally ready for our first demo. And that's always the fun part. Talking to people, especially kids, about a sport I love to do, one that is accessible to all dogs of all sizes, shapes, and types, is great. The crowds were wonderful, the kids asked funny and perceptive questions. We were a bit shorthanded this demo, with Andrea in Omaha and Kathy in Wichita. Steve and Jamie had a dog, and I worked all three of mine, even 11 1/2 year old Viva. Ginger worked both her adult Springers and the 3 month old puppy had a great time with the crowd. Liz showed up with Standard Schnauzer Vegas and he demonstrated the exercise ball. We talked and explained until my voice was pretty much gone.

Our dogs were, I have to say, amazing. They worked the rings and the crowds, allowed innumerable hands to pet them and lots of chirping children's voices over their heads. Viva, the old Dobe, is a pro at this stuff, but Zipper the Min Pin is still young and I was just so thrilled with his attitude and patience. Ditto the Springers, the Weim Faith who was pretty much always mobbed, and Vegas too.

Finally we were finished with demos, but not at all finished with our day. We had vet student help to break things down, but we still had to repack the cars, then haul it all back to the building, take it all out and put it back. Even though our last show was at 12:30, it was almost 2:30 before I and the dogs finally arrived home. Where they promptly crashed into sound sleeps, exhausted by their day.

We do love to do demos, but now perhaps people may understand why we just don't do that many...

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