By Linda Grupp Boutin
So with Jack and Evelyn observing from the hill above, Seraph and I began really working on her obedience training. Our first class had been a total fiasco. First off, I had to understand "Right Turn, Left Turn." Being challenged over left and right anyway, it took me the whole class to tune in on the brand new wedding ring on my LEFT finger. Now I didn't have to hang back and watch which direction the other students turned (which just like me was wrong half the time at least), but just notice which finger had a ring and turn the appropriate direction. First hurdle handled, Linda's directional challenge overcome!
And the late afternoon, 15-minutes of "dedicated" training time continued day after day, week after week, month after month. First Seraph learned how to sit on command, eventually understanding that every time that I stopped walking, she was expected to sit attentively at my left side and not on my foot! The attentive aspect of her sit was important because this put her in the proper position to move on to the next and more difficult command. While at my side, I was to wave my hand in front of her and tell her, "Down!"
The sit had been challenging enough, but my "Little Angel" had no desire to lay down in the midst of so many dogs she wanted to socialize with. I worked for weeks on this one with Sam giving me a new tip to try each week while working with Seraph. At home, she did not object to laying down. In class, it was a flat refusal every time. Oh the joy I felt the first time she agreed to follow my command in class and lay beside me. Maybe this just might be possible!
Successes built more successes until Seraph began listening to me both on the leash and off. Don't get me wrong, she still remained a full-blood basenji willing to go her own way, but at least she listened and wondered if she should follow my idea. We had an easier working relationship that grew with every effort I put forth to reach my basenji-girl.
Then one evening it was time for our basic obedience test. Seraph and I took the ring and she performed every command, only hesitating a little over the down command. Gary stood outside the ring with our new male basenji pup watching. They embraced us in a family hug when we passed the test with flying colors.
So what next? Advanced obedience, of course. Did Sam say that involved off-leash training? I could only imagine...