Photo by Robin Sallie.
I get up early on a weekend, a day when I usually sleep in. I pack a training bag. I walk Maisy early (both to take off the edge and to make sure she’s empty), whereas I normally walk her in the afternoon. I load her up in the car and drive, sometimes long distances, to places she’s never been before. Sometimes we even stay in a hotel. When we arrive at the trial site, I put her in a crate, something I don’t do very often at home. Although I try to pick an out-of-the-way location, inevitably another dog will come up to her crate for a quick sniff or two. If I cover her crate, she will hear barking, shouting, and equipment banging around, but not know what’s causing all the noise. If I leave her crate uncovered, she has to watch other dogs working and playing- hard for my fun-cop dog. When I finally bring her out of the crate, she has to deal with crowded spaces and the inevitable unwanted physical or social contact (someone, canine or human, is almost guaranteed to swoop down on her). Add to that the fact that the person she’s counting on to be an island of normalcy in this sea of chaos is all stressed out with ring nerves, and good grief! How can I possibly expect her to act normal?
Clearly, we expect a lot out of a performance dog beyond the many skills we expect them to demonstrate in the ring. And while Maisy isn’t exactly normal, I have a hard time thinking she’s all that weird, either.