The other night Mark and I were watching “America’s Got Talent”. Cheesy, I'll admit but I've been rather sucked in by the finger-snapping stylings of Bobby Bad Fingers, the puzzling Quick Change folks, the entertaining Jugglers, the totally off-the-wall Leonardo and many more of the acts. I will not confess to being glued to the TV for it nor to actually taking the time to vote, but it has been fun, mindless entertainment to enjoy in the evenings before we go feed dogs.
So, the other night was the last performances of the ten finalists. They aired little clips of many of the performers getting the opportunity to meet some of their idols. The finalists raved about what a great opportunity it was to get to meet ‘Rap Master P’ (or whatever his name was) and other such masters of their crafts – and sure enough, the final performances of most of the contestants were the best of the series. Cool, but whatever. . . time to feed dogs.
The next morning I was hooking up a team. On the dog board, where I list what dogs I’m running that day, I had Paxson’s name among the 14 chosen. Now Paxson is a very promising young boy, but of late he has been showing a lot of uncertainly and nervousness at hookup. Most young dogs like this, in my experience, benefit from running next to a dog they know and are comfortable with, and for that reason, I’ve been running Paxson next to his brother, X, or other dogs of equal age that are kennelled near him in the yard. It’s almost a foolproof technique, but for Paxson it just wasn’t doing the trick. As all the other dogs were screaming and pawing at me as I went through the yard, Paxson sat next to his house, hoping I was going to miss his name on the board. I toyed with just not running him that day and some dogs do benefit from some time off, but that just didn’t seem like the answer here. I walked him up to the line, tossing over a number of ideas in my head when suddenly it hit me – Paxson needs to work with a Master! A bit of rearranging on the line and Paxson found himself next to the ‘Master’ in our yard – Grover. Grover about turned himself inside out at the opportunity to help out.
At first, when I put Grover next to Paxson on the ready chain, you could see Paxson grow more nervous: he dropped his head and seemed to be trying to vanish into his own fur. I could just see him thinking ‘it was bad enough when I had my brother next to me, now I have this strange lunatic barking beside me’. Maybe this wasn’t my greatest idea, but I was going to see it through – and sure enough, as I worked my way through the team putting harnesses on everyone, you could see the confidence and assuredness of Grover begin to have some effect on his little ‘grasshopper’ – his head lifted a bit and he started looking around. As I hooked them onto the gangline next to each other, I was so pleased to see Paxson standing up tall next to Grover and even barking to get me moving a time or two. His tail even waved a bit.
I’m far from done working with this boy, but at least I found the trick we needed to get us headed in the right direction – with thanks to the Rappin’ Grannie, Rap Master P and Simon Cowell.