From Sit/Stay post by trainer Darcie.
“He’s retarded.” | The Dish by Darcie
Posted on August 26, 2010 by Darcie
“He’s retarded,” she said.
“He doesn’t look retarded,” I replied.”He just looks like a normal dog.”
“The vet diagnosed him as retarded,” she told me. “Lay down,” she said to the dog. The dog went to the floor doing as she asked, then he got back up again.
“What do you mean he’s retarded? What does that mean?” I’ve never heard of a dog being diagnosed as retarded. She motioned him to lay down again and again he did what she asked, then he got back up.
“He was slow to learn, I had to work so hard with him to get him to do even the simple stuff. I finally took him to the vet. The vet said he’s retarded.”
The dog came over to me. I didn’t reach out, she was still trying to work with him and I didn’t want to interfere. She motioned with her fingers for him to sit, she said “sit” and he did. Then he got up again.
“See?” she said. “He’s retarded.”
“What is it that you couldn’t get him to do?” I smiled at the dog and he wagged his tail at me.
“It took me a long time to get him to sit, lay down, and come. He still doesn’t stay when I tell him to. It was frustrating to try to train him and I’ve handled dogs.” She frowned just a little bit and looked at me again. As she talked, I found out that she’d been using traditional training methods with him.
“Can I play with him, see what I can get him to do?” I asked. I popped some roasted chicken from my salad into my mouth.
“Sure. Go ahead.” Good luck was written all over her face.
“Hey, little buddy.” I gave the dog a piece of chicken. I had his full attention immediately. I gave him another little piece. He sat in front of me and scooted closer. “Touch.” I held my hand out to him. His nose automatically touched my hand. Bite of chicken. “Touch.” I said it again and again his nose touched my hand. Another bite of chicken. “Touch,” I said a third time. He looked at my face, then at my hand. He leaned back slightly and a little to the side, his nose went up and he was looking up at the ceiling. Frozen in that position.
“See,” she said. “He’s retarded.”
“No. He’s just thinking,” I said. “Wait, he’ll come back and touch my hand with his nose. He’s deciding if he wants to work with me and working out exactly why he should. My guess is that he will.” I waited with my hand out, she and I talked a bit.
It did take this darling dog several minutes to have his aha moment and it came. He startled, looked at me and touched my hand with his nose. I laughed and gave him six pieces of chicken, one right after the other. I asked him to touch my hand again and he did it instantly. He laughed too and wagged his tail. Then we did some sits, downs, comes, and stays. He did them all perfectly, even the stays. He didn’t break once.
“Wow,” she said.
“He’s brilliant. He’s a brilliant dog. Look at that brilliant dog.” I smiled at her and rubbed the dog with both hands. “Sometimes it’s simply the match that we make. Some dogs don’t want to work with some people. I know you love him so you probably have to make some choices. You have to find a better way to communicate, positive training is so fast and easy, and hope that he will work with you, or give him up to someone who he will work with, or decide that good enough is good enough and love the relationship that you have now.”
She was a very nice woman and she really likes her dog. Sometimes we just don’t know until we know.
I didn’t even use a clicker. I may have blown her mind if I had. – Darcie