Tuesday, January 3, 2012

baby helpers

Ah,well, we don't really have babies as helpers.  Or decoys who help babies.  What we have is inexperienced helpers. One, to be exact.  I think many clubs struggle to find good helpers and then to keep them.  If your club is in a rural area, you are immediately at a disadvantage. Statistically you won't have as many opportunties to draw from the population.  But every now and then the stars align and a prospective helper comes your way.  Barring back injuries and felonies, it's time to get busy training your baby helper. Which brings us to another problem. Not everyone is interested in using their dogs to train the new helper.  Oh yes, they will definately be first in line to use said helper once he is trained, but when it comes to risking any set backs with their dogs, they refuse. So it is left to the person who is willing to let the new helper practice on their dogs, to bring the skills up to a useable level.  Retired, experienced dogs are great for this.  Even just experienced dogs that can be worked on basic concepts safely.  The new helper cannot problem solve and has yet to develop cat-like reflexes to protect himself from the dog that releases and redirects or does not target well.  Problem solving is outside the scope of the new helper but it is not too early to begin to quiz them on how they will respond in the face of a certain behavior.  For example, you see the dog spinning on the back line, what should you do?  You are setting up a triangle-- where is the dog placed?  The question that leaves strong men quaking is "why did you do that?". 
When you find a man in relatively good health who thinks learning how to work with the business end of biting dogs is crazy fun, it's time to celebrate! So when a man with a martial arts background volunteered, I was thrilled.  We have only one other helper in our club, and he is only able to attend sporadically due to starting a new business and other obligations. Big dreams require consistent helper work. Enter Matt.
We had a really great training session tonight, his best so far.  The pieces are starting to come together and we can communicate without extended conversation.  Teaching a new helper is much like dance instruction, or so I imagine.  Since I have never taught dance, I could be wrong.  The first step is to learn a few basic, or "go-to" moves.  After that, put the moves in a simple formula. Maybe a swing step. Oh wait, that's dancing again. The magic triangle is excellent for this.  Which, come to think of it, sounds said it......a dance move. Or an adult film.
I digress. Tonight Matt was on it like John Travolta in Saturday Night Fever.  The moves were on the money! I barely had to lead.
Well done, baby! Well done!