A couple of years ago I went to a Susan Garrett seminar and listened to her speak about one of the reasons she believes her dogs live such long, healthy lives: every day she makes sure each dog gets a big adventure.
As a professional dog trainer, my dogs are very important to me and an integral part of my life but for the last few months, since I began dating the most wonderful guy, I have felt like my own life and by default my dogs’ lives are one adventure (big and small) after another.
Case in point: yesterday, after returning from a most adventurous weekend in the mountains of eastern Kentucky, we were hanging in his backyard with my Jack Russell Terrier, Brit and his had-to-stay-home-sick (which is why Wonderful Guy was home at all) kindergartener. We were about to go back into the house for a rousing game of Connect Four when Brit managed to chase down and kill a rabbit.
You would think the story would end there but I have been wanting a rabbit skin for the last couple of months to work with a client’s dog who loses all ability to think and thus keep a loose leash when he spots a bunny on a walk. Between a post Bob Bailey wrote on a dog training email list and some Susan Garrett ideas I am fairly sure I can use a clicker, extra-good treats, the impulse control foundation already laid out in previous lessons for this dog (dubbed Sir Bites A Lot by said Wonderful Guy) and most importantly a genuine rabbit skin possibly on a remote control vehicle to teach the dog to control himself when he sees or smells bunnies.
Wonderful Guy comes from a family of hunters (I am more of a gatherer but we will cover that on down the road) so I was dearly hoping that someone would simply do the deed on the killing, skinning and prepping of this rabbit skin for me. I even looked up rabbit season in Kentucky which doesn’t open until October so I was prepared to wait a while to get this skin.
The killing of the bunny was Brit’s Big Adventure yesterday. Mine came afterwards when WG offered, in his suburban backyard on a Wednesday afternoon, to skin and butcher the bunny for me! The kindergartener was intrigued but finally dubbed this adventure sad and gross which it totally was (although I made a case for this being a hero bunny who died so that other bunnies would not go down to Sir Bites A Lot) so he went inside to watch cartoons while I held Mr. Bunny’s paws and tried not to see WG skinning him. Paws and ears were set aside to be dried as treats for Brit – seriously you can buy Aunt Jeni’s dried bunny feet for your pup although apparently not right now – and WG made sure all the meat was cut off for future training treats. I just kind of pretended it wasn’t happening and said thank you a lot.
I very proudly emailed Sir Bites A Lot’s owner to tell her that Brit and WG had managed to obtain a rabbit skin for us finally and she promptly emailed me back asking if Brit was unaware that rabbit season didn’t open in Kentucky until October.