Could a crazy dog be a cover dog?

Bailey never holds still. Here she is mid-roll
Bailey never holds still. Here she is mid-roll

First, a little background: HoofPrints Newsletter subscribers already know that I have been on an epic journey involving my horsemanship. I went along fine for years, quite fearlessly, with no trouble at all from my mounts. Then, I got a little (ahem) older, and along came a horse (chestnut mare Allie) who didn’t appreciate my bossy attitude. We had some spectacular confrontations that left me shaken to the core, any confidence I had in my abilities to ride, let alone train, was vaporized. I spent considerable time sulking, in a despair that no animal would ever want anything to do with any kind of partnership involving me.

Then, along came Bailey. Bailey’s a black lab who was dumped here at our farm a few years ago. She could be legitimately classified as a “crazy dog”. Her default behavior is jumping. Like she has springs for legs.  For the most part I’ve stifled her her urge to jump and put feet ON people – but that doesn’t stop her from springing along beside me as I walk, leaping shoulder high and occasionally planting a friendly lick to my cheek. Which I allow as long as no muddy paws touch my clothes. A little weird, but she’s a happy girl, and tries really hard to please. As I worked on helping her improve her manners, she proved to be an astoundingly willing pupil – and would try anything I asked her to do. If she didn’t understand a request, she just kept offering up answers until she got it right. And jumping. And before you think that jumping is a harmless enough sort of crazy, I need to clarify the fact that her repertoire also included some very bad behaviors that resulted in some serious property destruction. It needed to be gotten under control. And fast.
Here's another one of Bailey, teleporting over the broom handle that I use as a makeshift hurdle. It's a game she never grows tired of. I've got my trusty www.hoofprints.com treat pouch ready with her due rewards. And you can see that I look a little tense. This dog jumping thing is DANGEROUS. She flies around every which way - one time she bopped me in the chin with her head and knocked me clear on my butt!
Here’s another one of Bailey, teleporting over the broom handle that I use as a makeshift hurdle. I’ve got my trusty hoofprints.com Treat Pouch ready with her due rewards. And you can see that I look a little tense. This dog jumping thing is DANGEROUS. She flies around every which way – you’ll read later how she bopped me in the chin with her head and knocked me flat onto my butt! Photo by Lauren Duncan

So an idea hatched in my head. Finally, an animal who is totally interested in working with me – no matter how badly I messed up – she just kept trying. In between bouts of leaping around. It was the perfect solution for my lack of confidence. A happy-go-lucky dog that was always ready to learn, AND was not one bit scary or dangerous to interact with. Unlike my poor Allie who’d learned to consider freaking out as her best option whenever my cues got muddled or I lost my confidence.

I signed Bailey and I up for an obedience course and she passed her tests with flying colors under the tutelage of a lovely positive trainer who helped me work on my cues, timing, and rewards. There’s a story about that here. Even though it wasn’t part of the curriculum for the class, at home I experimented with makeshift jumps (buckets with a stick across) to take advantage of Bailey’s propensity for flamboyant leaping. Soon, I could hold any sort of rod (usually a broom handle) and she’d joyfully leap it – back and forth – until I told her to stop. It is a game she never grows tired of.
Crazy jumping dog filmstrip
Bailey’s at it again with her jumping antics. Professional photographers Lauren Duncan and Brittany Henderson did NOT capture a single image of her that failed to impart her charismatic silliness. As I tell in my story here, this dog is an explosive, enthusiastic jumper, but what the cameras saw made us laugh even more. You can see larger versions in my Facebook album here.
Recently, the Jay County Humane Society hosted a fundraising event featuring Tony Hoard and his troupe of performing dogs. I attended with my parents and son, and was impressed with what I saw. High energy dogs, zooming around catching frisbees, jumping over things, doing acrobatics, etc.
Tony Hoard and Sprocket (the Rocket) . Sprocket's a heeler mix who was rescued from a shelter. The dogs all wore little boots to give them traction on the slick wood floor.
Tony Hoard and Sprocket (the Rocket.) Sprocket’s a heeler mix who was rescued from a shelter. The dogs all wore little boots to give them traction on the slick wood floor.
Tony’s proclaimed “crazy dog” Sprocket had a special Frisbee that, as a reward, he was allowed to attack like some sort of rabid fiend. Not what I would expect to see as a conventional reward, but it was apparently very meaningful to this particular dog. As we watched the variety of tricks, at one point Tony squatted down, held his arm out at shoulder height, and his dog raced toward him and leaped smartly over his outstretched arm. I commented to my son that I was sure that my Bailey could do that trick.
The performance came to an end and I made the hour-long trek home. It was late when I got here, and time for the dogs to go to the barn to sleep for the night. Even though it was bedtime and I was really tired, I just had to try the jump over the outstretched arm trick. I squatted down and held out my arm and told her to “JUMP!” She just wasn’t getting it. She kept running up and sniffing my hand – which was, sensibly, a variation of a targeting exercise that we’d learned in the obedience course. Then, I had the bright idea to get the broomstick that she already knows how to jump over, and hold it out as an extension of my arm – until she figured out that I wanted her to jump over my arm.

More background: Whenever this dog sees me get out the broom – she excitedly starts randomly leaping around in anticipation. So, when I squat down to hold it out to the side, she isn’t expecting that and she is still randomly jumping. Except this time my face is down on her level, and she leaps into me. Her head hit me right in the chin. Hard. It knocked me down. I bit my tongue and can feel crunchy pieces of broken tooth in my mouth because we collided so hard.

At this point, I am sitting on the barn floor, trying to sort out if the impact has knocked a crown off my tooth, and figuring out where all the blood in my mouth is coming from… still holding the broomstick in my hand. As the stars start to recede from my field of vision, I can see that Bailey’s there, frantically jumping over it – back and forth – over and over again – waiting for me to notice her. I can’t help but laugh at her continued effort, even though my jaw feels like it’s quite a bit further to the right than it really should be.
 
Bailey is the best dog I have ever known as far as being up for trying whatever wacky thing I might ask. Here she is sitting neatly on an upside-down flower pot. It was barely big enough for her to fit her feet on, but she managed it without difficulty on the first try. I am telling her to stay there for the photo op - and she's shaking my hand in congratulations of my training
Bailey is the best dog I have ever known as far as being up for trying whatever wacky thing I might ask. Here she is sitting neatly on an upside-down flower pot. It was barely big enough for her to fit her feet on, but she managed it without difficulty on the first try. With my right hand I am telling her to stay there for the photo op – and she’s shaking my left in congratulations of my training “skill.” And yes, I sometimes do my training in the dark in front of the trash dumpster.

Fortunately, it must have been just a small chip off the still attached crown (or somewhere else) because I never could figure out where that grit in my mouth came from. And I didn’t have a bruise on my face, thankfully, but my neck was sore from being torqued by by the hit to the side of my chin. So much for dog training as a completely safe endeavor. I never considered that I could get clocked in the chin like a boxer by a 50# dog!

As a follow-up, not to be bested by the unfortunate chin incident, I figured out a safer way to practice this trick. Rather than issue the “JUMP!” command willy nilly, I instead place Bailey in a sit/stay position a short distance away. Where she can barely contain herself, tail wagging and butt wiggling, until I then give the “JUMP!” command. I am a lot safer – as her focus is on what she’s supposed to be jumping, and she heads straight for it as soon as she’s told to. My next plan of action is to attempt to get some video of these silly antics, so I can share with you all. Still pics are a dismal failure as all I can capture is a black blur…
Notice that the tagline says Orvis Cover Dog Wannabe. For Bailey to earn a real cover dog title, she'll have to win the popular vote against some very stiff competition.
Notice that the tagline says Orvis Cover Dog Wannabe. For Bailey to earn a real cover dog title, she’ll have to win the popular vote against some very stiff competition.

Bailey doesn’t limit her jumping efforts to conventional obstacles. Everything is fair game, at least once. The horse’s water tank is a regular destination in summer when it’s hot and a refreshing dip is in order. The day Lauren and Brittany were photographing the horses was as good as any, and Lauren just happened to wheel around at the perfect instant and capture Bailey’s exit leap. The resulting picture is too good not to share with the world! It epitomizes the life of a farm dog, working hard all day, making do with amenities that are available, and loving life the whole time. It occurred to me that Bailey might make a fine Orvis Cover Dog.

For those not familiar with the Orvis Cover Dog Contest – the Orvis Company is best known for its mail order fly-fishing equipment. But this Vermont-based business, which operates the oldest mail order operation in the country, also has a robust dog products catalogue and online presence, as well as 70 retail stores in the United States.

They partnered with the Morris Animal Foundation, a nonprofit that invests in science to promote animal health, and is a leader in funding scientific studies for companion animals, horses, and wildlife. When Morris launched its Canine Cancer Campaign, Orvis seemed like a likely partner and together they created the Orvis Cover Dog Photo Contest – there’s a video about the project here.  Participants are invited to submit a picture of their dog to the contest and then invite friends and family (through social media) to vote for their pooch online. Each vote costs $1 with a $5 minimum vote/(tax deductable) donation. All the entries are here, Bailey’s entry is here.

More than 100,000 photos were submitted previously—from customers and non-customers alike, leading Orvis to add tens of thousands of customers to its mailing list and Morris Animal Foundation to add 26,540 new donors, 10 percent of whom have given a second gift. The campaign also involved famed actress Betty White, a known animal lover, who filmed a web spot to promote the contest. To date, $1,085,898 has been raised and 11 major colleges and universities are conducting research funded by monies gained through this program. By partnering with Orvis, Morris Animal Foundation has created six programs, including one to train scientists, two to improve cancer diagnoses, and three that developed improvements in cancer treatments. The effort was awarded Cause Marketing Forum’s Halo Award for 2015 – details here.

Want to see what else happens?

Fun on the Farm Part 1 is here

The Epic Mess of Fixing the Fireplace is here

Tearing Down an Old Barn to Repurpose the Timbers in the house is here

The adventure of utilizing the first few timbers as a Fireplace Mantle is here

Utilizing more timbers in a big room upstairs – Of Trials and Strong Backs is here

No One Will Ever See It – an Adventure In Remodeling is here

We are still not finished, but you can see “The Aftermath” of one barn beam project here

Sometimes you have to look back… at scary pictures here

More looking back… Scary pictures, recycling and repurposing here

The surprise that shouldn’t have been a surprise is here

6 thoughts on “Could a crazy dog be a cover dog?”

  1. I love your stories Gina! The animals that come into your life are blessed indeed to have the good fortune of your love and care. And when you share your experiences with them, your readers like me get blessed too! 🙋

    Thanks, Annette Lott Starks

    Sent from my iPad

    >

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thank you Gina for your inspiration! I now know what to do with my 11 month-old blue merle Pomeranian, Charley. He jumps. He can jump as high as my waist and I am 5’9″ tall. He can grab things right out of my hands that I think are too high for him to reach. When I return home after being gone for all of 1 hour, he will spend the next few minutes leaping in the air like a kangaroo (or so I imagine never having had a kangaroo). I have wondered where this trait originated, since I have had the dog since he was 10 weeks old and never said a single word about Leaping.
    Now I will teach him circus tricks (always mindful of my chin). Best to Bailey.

    Liked by 1 person

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