...will most likely become my moniker about town as I attempt to make Elli bomb-proof on the table. Handling classes aren't really effective anymore, because she's gotten completely comfortable with the dogs there and with the instructor examining her on the table. Which is good in that it shows me that she CAN get comfortable with it, but I'm reaching the point of diminishing returns with going to the same class all the time.
And it's not like Elli is shy of people or strangers, at all! She will run out to the end of her leash to kiss up to absolutely anyone -- jump up on them, lick their hands, try to lick their faces, flop on her belly for scritchings, talk up a storm... she is NOT the more properly-temperamented, reserved type. (Which is more than a little embarrassing when I've just told said unsuspecting stranger that I do competitive obedience with my dogs. I'm sure they are terribly impressed.)
Ian, my properly reserved boy, has tried to explain to her that strangers may in fact be ax murderers. He has shown her by example time and again that, if offered goodies from a stranger's hands, she should take it to be polite and then surreptitiously deposit it on the ground, because god only knows where it came from. But no, Little Miss Love Me! continues her coquettish ways, oblivious to any possible danger from People She Doesn't Know.
When she's on the ground.
On the table, though, she's much more skittish. I don't know if it's the height issue, or if she feels like the table isn't secure underfoot, or if she just objects to people grabbing her face to look at her bite. She's slow to stand up straight, assuming a semi-crouch when I first put her on the table until I can coax her up and forward with some bait. I can't get her feet placed properly until she relaxes a bit and, unfortunately, you don't get that kind of time in the ring. If approached before I can get squared away, she's very difficult to see the bite on, and we won't even talk about what the scrunching does to her topline. (Can we say "camel?")
Sooooooooo, I think I'll be loading my grooming table into the car and setting out to lure unsuspecting strangers in public places into petting my dog on the table and feeding her string cheese. First we'll practice gaiting with distractions and speeding up the stacking process, then add in strangers: first just feeding her, then touching down her back, then looking at the bite as she becomes more comfortable. I will no doubt be labelled as strange, but I think that's a perfectly acceptable trade-off for a bomb-proof table dog.
8 more weeks till Springfield. 8 more weeks till Springfield...