October is “Adopt a Shelter Dog” month. Personally, I like a good mixed-breed dog. They usually carry good qualities from both parents; although the dad is usually hard to identify, as he’s most often a "hit and run" perpetrator. My own dog, Beauregard, who doesn’t quite live up to his elegant name, is not a case in point. Beau is part sheep dog, part Labrador and does have identifying characteristics of both. He has the black, short-hair coat of the dad - a Lab - along with the white patch on his chest like his mom.

He also inherited his mother’s love of running and his sire’s of chewing. Labs, when young, are worse than goats! They’ll gnaw on everything from shoes to furniture. Beau did finally outgrow that habit, but the contents of my house and yard still show the results. But, he is an excellent watch dog, tries to be a good dog, and loves his family. I suppose a chair arm or two is a small price to pay in exchange.

As far as obedience, that’s a hit-or-miss accomplishment. He loves the words "McDonald's" and/or "hamburger" and is standing at the door with his leash in his mouth in a flash when he hears them. He also knows: sit, stay, down, no, go, dinner, snack and ride, and even recognizes that the index finger held up means "wait." He knows all of these commands. Whether he obeys them or not, except for the last three, depends on his mood. “Come” and “inside” are totally ignored unless the weather is bad. I’ve never figured out how to overcome this.

I had him in obedience training for two weeks, and when the trainer finally got him to walk on a leash, he quit. (The trainer, not the dog. The dog thought it was all great fun.)

This is a far cry from an earlier experience when I enrolled my Dalmatian, Snoopy, in a month-long obedience class. We went once a week and at the end had an obedience competition open to guests. Amazingly, Snoopy took second place by completing his long down, even after nearly being attacked by a Rottweiler! Part of discrepancy between the outcome between Beau and Snoopy may have been that I was much younger then and had more time and energy for working with Snoopy. Beau was left entirely in the hands of the trainer and was worked alone. Snoopy had a class with about 15 or more other dogs and their owners.

One of the many things I learned from the class, was that it’s as important for the handler/owner to be trained as the dog. The second biggie was “patience above all,” followed closely by being firm without being angry or rough with the dog. In most cases, dogs really do want to please you. Yes, they do! But you have to be consistent in letting them know what you expect and what they are to do. Their reward is being given a pat on the head, praised and being told “Good dog!” (Refer back to my previous paragraph on my short-comings with Beau. I gave him praise, but not consistency.)

No matter the results though, obedience class was a lesson in itself in both human and canine behavior.

Smaller dogs seemed more eager to please their owners, and therefore quicker to learn. Or possibly they were just easier to drag around and knew it. Larger dogs required a shorter leash and a firmer tone. Sometimes, it would probably have been more effective if the owner had been on the leash and the dog giving the commands. A few of the owners were either so apologetic to the dog and the trainer, and others impatient and rough, that in both classes it was totally confusing to the dogs, who often had the expression of “What?!!!!!”

There was hilarity also during the class also, especially when a young woman brought in her Saint Bernard who clearly outweighed her and had no enthusiasm for being trained. It was not uncommon that in the middle of an exercise, especially walking on a leash in a circle with the other trainees, the Saint Bernard would run out of steam and simply lay down. One or two dogs following would inevitably not get stopped in time and fall over him. This led to a lot of chaos and laughter.

Looking back later, it became clear that obedience classes should also be instituted for young children and for husbands-to-be (both without the leash), as they are in dire need of learning that there are other people in life besides themselves that need to be considered and the rules change as you take your place in society and marriage. Brides-to-be need an entirely different type of class. One based in reality, practicality, compromise and learning that the articles in Seventeen and Cosmopolitan magazines lied.

A good bases for these advanced classes would be to first take a dog obedience class with a dog not terribly inclined to be a stellar student. If you don’t have a dog, Beau is available for loan.

California fires and a good deed…Talked with a good friend of mine in California this week and she, besides always being good for a laugh, is also full of information. Seems her son Kristopher is a Cal Fire Engineer and has been out for more than a month working the fires that have raged through the state. He is normally stationed at the Sea Ranch on the coast, but was transferred to the Santa Rosa Fairgrounds a few days ago and up to Calistoga. He has a volunteer crew he works with and they were able to save a few houses. One of the interesting tidbits she passed on (that didn’t make the 6 o'clock news) was that TV chef Guy Fieri brought in a smoker there (and caught some flack on that), but fed 2,200 evacuees. He did this as it was the area where he had his original restaurant. Kris and the other crews are still working the fires, but the good news is they are finally getting some rain in the area.

Alumni Newsletter…If you, or someone you know, is an alumni of Farmington High School and a member of the Farmington Educational Foundation, watch your mailbox in the next week as the new edition of the letter will be mailed shortly! If you’re not a member of the FEF contact Sally Sullivan-Shinn at P.O. Box 1144 in Farmington to sign up or for more information. Joining the FEF is also a nice gift for a newly graduated FHS student to keep them in touch.

Coming Up:

Thursday, Oct. 26….Dine Out for United Way. A percentage of every meal from Little Caesar’s in Farmington and Desloge sold that day goes to the St. Francois County United Way to support 30 local charitable agencies.

Tuesday, Nov. 14… The Women’s Connection meets at 9:15 a.m. at First Baptist Church, 210 North A St. Jessica Harmon of Dress2Impress will present the special feature and Barbara Gaines of Savannah, Missouri will be the guest speaker. Reservations/cancellations are required for the $10 brunch. Call 756-7226 or 562-7492. Everyone is welcome.

Saturday, Nov. 18 …Help the Hungry Bake sale at St. Joe gym. Volunteers are needed to bake and to help that day. Contact Chris Landrum, chair, or any of the committee members. All proceeds of the sales that day go to fund the two local food pantries.

Nov. 18…The Harvest Celebration tour of the Route Du Vin wine trail. The celebration features a pairing of wine and food at each of six area wineries. Information and reservations available by going online at www.rdvwinertrail.com.

Dec. 18…Serenity HospiceCare is raffling off a 300-pound whole hog, donated by Ozark Hills Farm and the processing, donated by M&M Meats. Tickets are $5 each or 6 for $25 and available by calling 431-0162. All proceeds from the giveaway will benefit Carter's Clubhouse, a grief support group for children.

And don’t forget to stop by the Farmington Pet Adoption Center, located on Highway 67 south of Farmington, during Adopt a Shelter Dog Month. (There are also a bunch of adorable kittens and cats to select from). Your new family member is waiting for you!


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