These are the chronicles of two Shetland Sheepdogs and their adventures in rally-o, obedience, flyball, agility, tracking and therapy dog work.
Also including information on raw feeding, canine epilepsy, positive training, and lots and lots of Sheltie hair!

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Emotional Therapy for the Masses

This week has been CRAZY! In addition to our regular Monday night therapy dog visits and Tuesday night Rally-O practice, this week we also had Thursday-Friday-Saturday-Sunday shifts at a booth at the Saskatoon Sports and Leisure trade show. The show organizers approached one of the agility groups in town, Saskatchewan Agility Association, and asked them if they would do some demos in exchange for a free booth at the trade show. Since the agility club is pretty small in numbers, they agreed to take the booth and demos if they could split the work with one or two other non-profit dog groups. So the agility group approached St. John Ambulance therapy dog program and the Hub City Kennel and Obedience Club to join in the insanity.

Since I love trade shows, and am a member of 2 of the 3 dog groups involved, I volunteered to put in a lot of time at the booth and for demos. So in the past 4 days, the boys and I have put in over 21 hours at the show. PHEW! My feet are killing me, I have a sore throat, the dogs are exhausted, and I'm behind on laundry and groceries. But it was a great time (if you are a masochist)!

In addition to the agility and Rally-O demos, we spent most of our time in "therapy dog mode". Of course, the boys just lapped up the attention. Even after an 11 hour shift on Saturday, they were eager* for more again Sunday morning.

I suppose part of their enthusiasm could be explained by the fact that out booth was located directly across the aisle from the sausage and jerky stand. People would swarm to the stand for their fix of delicious meat products, turn around and notice the puppies. Then swarm over to them, meat in hand, for scratches. Romeo seemed equally thrilled with the people as with the proximity to the meat. But Gio definitely showed more excitement over the potential for accidentally dropped goodies. He deserves a commendation, his exuberant optimism never wavered the whole 4 days. He was just as sure that a sausage would be dropped for him on Sunday as he was on Thursday.

There were plenty of kids around, which helped ease the aching for a nibble of jerky. You see, children are often coated in good tasting goop, so choosing to cuddle up with them instead of staring down the meat cart can hardly be deemed a sacrifice.

Gio and Romeo made a lot of little fans on the weekend. This little boy being one of the biggest.

He had a t-shirt with the print of a husky on the front, and his face was painted to match. When he saw the boys at the booth, he rushed over, put them each in a headlock and hauled them in for cuddles and kisses. His mom pulled out her camera for a picture, so I asked if I could snap a shot as well. I had yet to have taken a picture for Gio's photo project, so was hoping to get something good at the show. I think this picture is really cute, despite the fact that it appears as if Gio is trying to escape the death grip that the boy has around his neck. In reality, someone had walked into the booth with a piece of sausage, and while Gio loves his therapy dog job, he loves food just a teensy bit more. I would normally have reset him or tried to get his attention for another shot, but the boy's mom was shooting me the stink eye, so I decided to remain satisfied with the one shot that I got.

This week is decidedly less busy. I am definitely looking forward to that.

* Okay, maybe "eager" is a bit strong. "Not adamantly apposed to" might be more accurate.

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