Tuesday, September 09, 2008

"Are You Karen Pryor?"

Saturday I was at a farm show and pet expo, where I gave a couple of demos and handed out information on dog training. This was the first year for the pet expo, held in conjunction with the popular farm show, and it wound up a bit early. I walked over to the other side of the fairgrounds to check out some farming gear, buildings, equipment, beef cattle, and more.

It was a warm day and I'd been working most of it, so I stepped up to buy a drink from a vendor. He glanced at my shirt -- I was wearing my Karen Pryor Academy polo, just in case I enticed a student -- and asked, "Are you Karen Pryor?"

He was just making conversation based upon my shirt, of course, so I answered a bit flippantly, "No, but I work for her!" as I dug out my cash.

"Karen Pryor the animal trainer?" he asked as he brought my Coke. "Really?"

A woman came to join him at the window. "Really?"

So we ended up chatting for a moment, and I left them with a URL to see my chicken training video from some of my workshops with Bob Bailey.

Tonight, however, I was reminded quite clearly that I am not, in fact, Karen Pryor. I put Laev's long link chain collar (our standard Schutzhund training collar, as it's required for competition) and long line on her, prepared to work on send-outs on the field. I couldn't find a training target, though, and I left Laev in a down so I could check in the barn. (Because there had been a C-A-T in the area, though, I put the line on the live ring of the collar so she couldn't slip out in case of sudden temptation, and I kept the end of the line in my hand as I went into the barn.)

Well, no target in the barn, so I decided I'd see if someone had left one on the field. I returned to Laev, gathered up the long line, and asked her to heel with me toward the field. Laev gave me lovely eye contact and nice heeling, ignoring both the agility tunnel we passed and the temptation to scan for the C-A-T. I was very proud of her.

It was her new tracking line we were using, which meant we got almost exactly thirty-three feet out before we took up all the slack where I'd locked the end in the barn door. Poor Laev got a sharp collar correction on a live ring for her heeling.

Fortunately, Laev doesn't really "get" collar corrections, and she figured it was just one of those weird and unfortunate things. I, however, felt really stupid. Nope, not Karen Pryor....

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