Thursday, July 7, 2011

The Storm

I take my dog for granted.

There it is. I may joke he is the worlds best dog, but he is far from perfect, even despite what other people may say (it is easy to confuse lazy with well behaved).

To be honest he probably isn’t the worlds best dog because I’m not the worlds best trainer (I don’t even try to be). I just do a few minutes every day, read books when I have time, and get advice from people who are more talented at it then I. However, all that work adds up and it has made a difference (see old post). What I took for granted is what a difference it has made.

This past weekend my husband, Beckett, and I went canoe camping. It was hot and muggy when we headed up north and by the time we reached the landing we were excited to get into the water. The canoe loaded, we took off. We weren’t on the water long before it began to sprinkle, so we started towards the next first camp site - 2 miles away.

Then things changed. The first sign was the lightening, at which point my husband and I put on our life jackets (Beckett was already wearing his). Just as I finished buckling my pfd the wind hit us. It hit us hard. Within seconds the canoe was in the water and we were suddenly in some sort of survival movie. It was scary. I’m a great swimmer and even with the life jacket there were times I struggled to keep above water. I remember reaching to see if the dog was afloat (those dog life jackets are no joke, I don’t think Beckett would have made it without one) then swimming to rescue the packs, then the shore. As I managed some Olympic like swimming to grab not one but both packs and stay above water my husband managed to grab the canoe (my husband even held onto his paddle), but everything else was gone.

Lightening and thunder were assailing our senses even as the wind and hail were pelting our bodies. If I was a dog I’m not sure what I would do, but I can tell you what Beckett did - everything I told him to. When I told him to “stay close” he stayed close, when I told him “jump” he jumped onto the slippery water shore, when I told him to “down” he went down.

Our list of items was short, wet tent, wet clothes, wet cell phone. As for the dog, the list was shorter, no leash, no treats, no clicker, only history and trust. I am so thankful that apparently that was enough - at least for Beckett.

Once we found a spot near the shore we waited until the worst was over. Even then - though the worst of the storm was over our trip was just beginning. Over next day or so we somehow managed to get somewhere safe and from there get home.

I’ll save you from the details. The rest of the affair is a long wet story involving more canoeing not being able to find help, the onset of dusk, more rain, more wind, more storm; ending with eventually finding a campsite setting up tent and trying to stay warm until morning.Once morning came we had another adventure trying to get home through dozens of downed trees. Through it all, which by this time added the growing list of crap Beckett dealt with children, chainsaws, different cars, and getting back into the canoe (even I didn’t want to get back into that canoe) Beckett was at his best. The only time he didn’t immediately do as I asked is when he finished peeing before coming over.

At the end of it all we made it home scratched, sore, but safe and sound. (Beckett’s vet checked him over Monday)

I guess I just never thought that all that the training had made such a difference, it didn’t seem like very much just a little everyday, a couple books, a class maybe two (if count the amount of time I spend talking to friends I would say two classes probably equates to one). I can only say it was worth it. Beckett amazed me, I had no idea how much I took for granted and how good of dog he can be. I also had no idea how awesome those K9 life jackets were, I’m going to go write a review for mine right now.


  1. I agree, spending that time training is so important! While I don't tempt fate by taking our Greyhounds out places off leash, they have enough training that I feel like there's a good chance that they would stay with us if some kind of emergency like that happened. I'm glad Beckett held his own for you though such a scary situation, and that you all made it back to tell the tale!

  2. Wow! Brilliant story. Well done you and Beckett!

  3. So glad it all worked out and you guys, all of you are OK. And yes, you and Beckett are an incredible team. Good job Beckett.

  4. That is AMAZING. And it still blows my mind that you and Andrew went through that!

    And Beckett's awesome behavior is absolutely a reflection of all the little bits of outstanding training that you constantly do with him. I think you don't realize just how much you do and have done because you're always doing it.

    BTW, if you guys visit the Bay Area, I promise we won't have any insane thunderstorms ;).

  5. Wow, what an amazing story! The most amazing part being what a great dog you have. The relationship training builds is truly priceless. This is the kind of dog my Meeka was, but I can only hope one day my present two can be as good as Beckett!

  6. OMG how harrowing! I'm so glad you're all okay!

    Training is only one piece of the picture; how you train with your dog has a lot to do with the relationship being built. Your story shows the underlying secret of clicker training and its surrounding philosophy: you are building a bi-directional partnership that shows respect for the learner and creates a bond built upon that respect.

    You have an amazing dog because you are an amazing dog owner/partner who listens to her dog just as much as he listens to her.