Tag Archives: Ahimsa

Chloë Goes Back to School

Who’s the Boss?

Back when Mike was in college (shortly after the Civil War, I assume), he was NEVER considered a BMOC (Big Man On Campus).  I, on the other hand, have been a BDOC (Big Dachshund on Campus) since my youth. Not only was I the top dog in my puppy classes at the Ahimsa Academy, but all of the other dogs in my classes, all of their owners, and, most importantly, all of the dog trainers and all of the dog trainers’ assistants knew me by name. And that’s an important element in securing the kind of first-rate service I require.

Ahimsa entrance: They train champions.

My recent Introduction to Nose Work class was no exception: Once again, by the time my six sessions ended, it was again clear that I was the best student there. Nose work is in my genes.

In nose work, dogs find a target  by following a scent.  This course  introduces dogs and their owners to the foundation skills needed to excel at finding things on cue using their nose. “The cool part about nose work is that you and your dog can do it anywhere – on walks, in the yard, in the house,” the Ahimsa website says. “There’s not a lot of gear, as there is with agility, and it doesn’t take a lot of space, like tracking does. It’s great for older dogs, puppies that have finished kindergarten, dogs with joint problems that can no longer run agility and even reactive dogs. It’s not just for particular breeds, either. No matter how big or small or smush-faced, your dog can do nose work.”

Poised to find it.

I had an advantage, however. As a hound, that’s what I’ve been bred for, and, as my many forays into many thickets will attest, I exhibit this trait in earnest. My nose is my calling card. I’m a dachshund Paladin: Have Nose, Will Travel…Wire Chloë Seattle.

Strategy session.

My nose class met in the Ahimsa annex, across the street from my earlier Ahimsa classrooms. On the outside, the annex looked like any one of the many auto body shops and metal fabricators in the neighborhood. But inside, it’s a great space: large and open like a gym, with a cushy floor. It would be big enough for the Seattle Sonics to shoot baskets there, if there were Sonics.

In this class I didn’t get to interact as much with other dogs. All of our exercises had to be done one at a time, and when it wasn’t my turn I was either practicing off in a corner or in a strict down/ stay. Which pretty much meant that whether I was working or whether I was resting, I was getting lots of treats for doing the right thing. And getting treats is what really counts.

Chloe gets a treat after she finds it.

First I leaned to follow a scent…using treats, of course. First the treat went into a small box, and when I stuck my nose in the box I could eat the treat. Then it got harder; two or three boxes, turned over boxes, boxes on chairs. Then they put the treats into small containers with holes in the top, like a large pepper shaker. Then they closed the top of the containers, and then increased the number of boxes. No problem. Every time Mike told me to “Find It,” I did, and I got  several pieces of cheese every time.

Between classes, we practiced.  Mike hid containers in the house, in the yard and in the park. I found them and got the cheese inside. Then I learned how to find a specific scent (birch) instead of merely following food smells. I caught on quickly; I still got cheese at the end even it if wasn’t inside the container. After a lot of repetition and cajoling, I even figured out that I had to put my paw on the container  instead of just touching it with my nose. First I thought this was superfluous, but eventually I learned to do it emphatically, my version of spiking the football after a touchdown. Yeah, baby, I found it! Where’s the treat?

Chloë checks out the agility riser during recess.

I also wanted to give an official blog shout out here for instructors Adriane and Tamara for successfully training Mike and Heather to keep up their part of this new game. I could tell that it was touch and go at first for Mike, but now he’s getting better at it. I’ll make him stick with it, too.

Next up in the curriculum is Nose Work 2: Intro to Odor (love that name!), in which dogs learn to search for particular scents, starting with the birch essential oil that I’ve already been working with and moving on to others (might I suggest eau de rabbit, my favorite scent?). The class is also supposed to develop my drive to search (as if mine needs to be developed any further) and build teamwork with my masters. No doubt Mike and Heather can benefit from that.  After all, as they learned long ago, “Suous cultores scientia coronat – knowledge crowns those who seek her.”¹.

¹Motto of Syracuse University

Chloë Continues Her Formal Education

As cute as I am, I know I won’t always be able to get by on my looks alone. Even a matinee idol like me can stand to learn a thing or two. So when Heather decided that I needed more formal schooling at the Ahimsa academy, who was I to disagree? After all, I had a blast in those Puppy Kindergarten classes that I took there last spring.

Ahimsa Instructor Rachel chides Heather for not clicking fast enough.

Puppy Junior High was not nearly as much fun. In Puppy Kindergarten, even the biggest breeds weren’t much bigger than I was. It was easy to hold my own. Now, all the other dogs had grown more than I have, and every one was much taller and heavier than me. When playtime came, I mostly hung back and watched. Sniffing around on the floor for treats uncollected from  previous exercises was a lot safer than scuffling with the big boys, if you ask me. I’ll wait until I get them outside, where my speed can be more of a factor, thank you very much.

Heather and Chloë display her diploma.

So the yuks were fewer and the homework was more demanding (for Heather and Mike, anyway) in Puppy Junior High, but after six weeks I’d have to say it was worth the time. I can pretty much take a walk like a normal dog now, and I usually come when I’m called–as long as I really want to, that is. Sometimes I hold out for a “treat party.” That’s when Mike or Heather screams out that phrase in a high-pitched voice,  throwing a handful of treats on the ground below them. Even if I’m dashing after a squirrel (which I probably wouldn’t catch, anyway), that surefire treat party is too good a lure to ignore. So did I learn anything in class? Yes, I did.

Chloë and Sunny

In fact, I passed my figure-8 walking test three weeks ago, so I got to skip right over it at the final exam. That gave me more time to practice “down/stay” on my rug. I hardly needed it; I only had to last a minute, and that’s just a joke. I’m so far beyond that. In another test, I had to respond to seven commands in 30 seconds. Seven? I did 18 without breaking a sweat. In fact, to cap off my exam, I did an optional trick,  executing a perfect “roll over” while everyone in the class was watching. For that, instructor Rachel conveyed upon me “graduation with honors” and gave me a prize: a toy (pictured at right, whom I have named Sunny) plus a 10 percent off discount coupon for my next class at Ahimsa. Here’s my official diploma:

Chloë’s Puppy Junior High Diploma

So will my formal education continue? Methinks Heather is getting that lean and hungry look. I know she’s dreaming about agility training, or at least Earthdog (kinda like a fox hunt without the foxes). Mike? Not so much, I’d say. But since everybody knows Mike doesn’t like ever like to turn away a discount, he may yet come around to Heather’s point of view. (As he usually does anyway, come to think of it.)