Another long long day on location for Saving Dinah yesterday.
Long, like 9.5 hours actually there. So far we’ve worked 28.5 hours over five days (as I was wrapping up   my full time job)
Keeping Sir Wyn and Sally cool was my main job yesterday – I was a total shade hog. They actually did well – though Wyn was wide awake from 11-1:30 after we were home.

We even worked a couple of red ball sessions into the day much to Sally’s delight!

Sally had to work with a smoke machine today and I was pretty impressed with her calmness around it. It is a hissy scary thing that reeks of sugar to me so must smell very strong to her. I simply conditioned her to stand beside it and that was it. No big fussy praise, no luring. A hiss, a treat – repeat twice and she was quite happy to go back into position beside the machine. She was being picked up by strangers and carried as they staggered around. She was quite ok with it all. Many dogs I know would have allowed it once and been done with it. Sally did rehearsal and then 4 takes without batting an eye. The FX man was very complimentary about how easy Sally was to work with – he’s done other animal films and had some issues it seems.

All made up – blood and dirt – poor Sally. No cone this time tho!

Much much later in the day we were needed for another scene … Sally had to happily run along the street with an actor. I didn’t want her racing but bouncing along so I stayed behind her so she wouldn’t pull. It worked well once I demonstrated a happy run with Sally. (Two scenes today with people who were not dog savvy – luckily they were very sweet and happy to take some pointers to look more comfortable with Sally).

Sally is zonked today – the heat, the stress, the newness … I’m very glad to have some down time today too.

Some interesting questions came up on location.

Somebody wanted to know if Sally understands that she is working on the film. My response was, “Gosh I hope not”.  All of our training has been play and fun for Sally. A moment or two (the tailgate slamming for example) I can deal with but if filming isn’t a great big fun game for her I will opt out. Negating 5.5  years of fun won’t be happening!

Loving Sir Wyn 

Someone asked if I owned Sally. My (confusing) response was “No, but I love living with her”. One of the sharp interns heard that and came to ask me who owned Sally if it wasn’t me. It took awhile to explain that we are partners, friends and family. I am  responsible for Sally but I don’t own her any more than Big T owns me!

The number one question I am getting to date is “Did you train her?” I usually smile and say “Yes”. What I’d really like to say is “Sally and I have worked very hard to establish a relationship of joy. This means that our work together is one without force and as clear as possible. I don’t punish Sally if she doesn’t understand what I’m asking her to do, nor do I take it personally when she expresses her doggy self. We work together to find a routine to minimize disruptions and maximize the opportunities for accomplishment. I celebrate Sally,  and the fun we have together and take great pleasure in our games!” But people wouldn’t get that. Not at all.

Still seeing lots of correction based training by wonderful people who just don’t get that there is another, to my mind better, way to get things done. (Actually during filming the run scene yesterday there was a woman working with her dog on the other side of the street just gently circling every time her dog pulled on her so we were all kind of moving at the same speed. She was being so good with her timing and so patient I actually complimented her on taking her dogs training seriously and nicely. Her grin went ear to ear as I’m sure her neighbours think she’s crazy.)