I never really thought about becoming a teacher. I’m not nurturing, nor do I particularly like kids, nor do I particularly enjoy speaking in front of people, nor do I have any patience. Like, none. At all. Over the past few weeks, as I’ve transitioned into taking over my own class, I’ve surprised myself by how much I am actually enjoying the challenge of motivating and educating my kids and their dogs. On Tuesday, my students were playing their “my dog does everything already so I’m done” game. I don’t blame them – it’s exhausting to train dogs for 2+ hours. Lunchtime roles around and I have 8 boys and 10 sandwiches. Everybody got 1, but they’re growing teenage boys, so they’re starving. Whoever’s dog tugs open the heavy door and sits and holds it open long enough for you to walk through it, wins a sandwich. You get 2 tries and then the next person goes. We go through all 8 dogs and some came close, but inevitably dropped the door before the student could get through it. They’re getting really competitive, coming up with new techniques, different ropes on the door, different positioning of themselves and their dogs. They’re really thinking about it and getting so frustrated that their dog can’t do it. Finally, on the second time through the group, Dior and his student won their sandwich. They were proud of themselves, though everybody else was jealous, worked up, unhappy with their ¼ of a sandwich. It was nice to see the kids enthusiastic, motivated, creative, and trying incredibly hard. Nicer, though, was seeing the kids the following 2 days as they worked and problem solved how to get their dog to really know the commands involved.
In order to calm some of that heated, competitive energy, we worked on teaching the dogs not to get too excited when people get on the floor with them. Having them lay underneath their trainer is great practice for clients with narcolepsy who may need the dog to pick their head off the ground if they're face down and in danger of suffocation. Though it resembles nap time, it really is work!