The truth is that I forgot to post this on March 10, which is his official birthday. But in fact, he is now nine years old and at the end of May, that’s how long we will have been together, true loves in this lifetime and maybe others.
I love him more than I ever dreamed possible. He makes me laugh every single day and is a joy to have around. (Mostly.) But tomorrow is an important day, too. In fact, he’s been in training for this more than a whole year.
Tomorrow morning at the crack of dawn we’ll all jump in the car and take a ride to Marin County. Riley will take his very first Odor Recognition Test at Marin County’s Humane Society. Well, actually, we both will. We’re a team.
Two lines of boxes will be in front of us but only one contains birch odor. When I tell him “find it!” he will lead me to the box with birch and “alert me.” I won’t know which box has odor; he must tell me.
Now here’s the rub. Sometimes his alerts are really just “stopping to look cute.” They’re not really alerts, although we have been sharpening them up for a few months now in nose-work training class and in private sessions with Miss Pam, his trainer.
He does really well in class and usually does well in privates. But sometimes, he’s just not in the mood, like yesterday, when he just wasn’t himself. Also, sometimes I jump the gun. So I have to be careful to notice the difference between an alert and his adorableness. Or boredom.
I am a bit nervous. Here’s a photo from yesterday’s home training:
Here’s the note I got from my girlfriend who has a cool dog: Riley will do great in Marin … parents maybe not so much. 🙂
I’m not sure if we’ll go further in the sport except his weekly class, which he loves. But I did want to see what the whole sport was all about.
So–wish us luck! If you’d like to see some absolutely adorable dog photos from his early days of training here they are!
Oh, and if you want an image of your dog similar to mine in the birthday message, let me know. This was done by an elementary school kid, the son of a reporter I know. He does them for fun and I promise you, this one captures Riley’s essence. The young artist is very good.