Sunday, January 22, 2012

Fodder for my fiction

All my books have dogs in them, and some of those dogs are quite amazing. But everything done by the dogs in my books has been drawn from life experience.

The same goes for my characters who live with and train the dogs in my books. If my own experience as a trainer is insufficient, I am blessed with a group of friends who all train and show their own dogs. So there are always stories and tips close at hand when I need a fictional dog to do something.

Case in point, two of my dog loving friends and I went to help a fourth friend teach her seven dogs to respect the door. Whenever her husband would leave for work, the dogs would go crazy. They would bark, charge the door, and generate so much canine excitement that sparks would fly. Since three of her dogs are terriers, this could result in dog fights at the door. Even when fights did not ensue, general chaos was often the result.

By the end of our visit today, and with the help of a truly excellent trainer with over 30 years experience, all seven dogs were respecting the door. The dog we thought was causing all the trouble turned out to be simply reacting to the excited state of the younger Sheltie who thought the word "Bye" meant "Get ready to charge and bark at the door."

I confess, I was amazed at the progress that was made in about ninety minutes of hands-on training, with patience and skill, working with one dog after the other. I have great respect for trainers with this skill level. Because of that, I aspire to keep my fictional dogs and their trainers as honest as possible. When Terri Baker and Russ Camino give their dogs a command, you can bet that either my dogs can do that or I have seen local dogs who can do it. Our dogs are so amazing, there is no need to invent the impossible. The possible is more than astounding.

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