Wednesday, February 17, 2010

In which I have a new camera and a hope for a new teacher.

I love my Maizer, but life with her has been nothing if not dramatic since I got her, on my 30th birthday last year.

First she got "strangles" which I put in quotes because there's some discrepancy over whether or not it was actually strangles, a very serious condition. Next came demodectic mange which a few of her brothers and sisters also got. There was also the incidence of the Evil Vet Who Doesn't Believe Dogs Should Be Raised With Children Or At Least Not My Particular Children -- but still wanted me to continue at the vet practice. Thank you, but no. I'll go to a vet that doesn't accuse me of benign neglect when I bring in my puppy for hundreds of dollars worth of care. I switched to another vet who was comfortable with raw-feeding -- which I had done with Deuce and Tex for years -- but that didn't last very long because I inadvertently got involved with some drama at the local kennel club over Maizey being skeleton-esque, and ended up seeing a vet an hour away who does performance with her dog (agility) and pronounced Maizey perfect and un-skeletal.

(Picture taken with my new camera! Thank you, Dustin! It was my Valentine's Day Gift.)

But now, I'm concerned about her obedience class. After I got her, I took her to Puppy School at PetSmart, which was mostly just a chance for her to be around other dogs. Then I took her to Puppy K at my local kennel club, and I had an awesome teacher. Her name is Tina and she was so enthusiastic about teaching, and so helpful. You know the type -- the teacher who loves what she's doing and inspires you to learn. She was very down-to-earth and personable, she always gave the students a chance to ask questions and discuss specific concerns, she had a great sense of humor. She was awesome -- okay she still is awesome, but she's not my teacher since Maizey graduated from Puppy K to Dog Beginner, in January.

And right away, I realized that my new teacher was Debby Downer and would not inspire much -- except a thorough evaluation of the class and her as a teacher, which I've been composing in my head since about week two, because I want to make sure it's free of vitriol and full of suggestions.

Dear Class Evaluator,

I have taken both Puppy Beginner and Pet Beginner at this club. I noticed several areas of concern. First, the discrepancy between what is taught in Puppy Beginner and what is expected in Pet Beginner is enormous. I feel both classes would benefit from some curriculum coordination. I felt at a huge disadvantage when I began Pet Beginner, after just finishing Puppy Beginner. Further, I believe Pet Beginner is too stringent, and much closer to an Advance Beginner class. Not all who take the class plan to do performance with their dog, and I feel it is geared toward that instead of the average dog owner who simply wants a better-behaved dog. 

The instructor could use improvement in her teaching skills. Although her knowledge and experience with dogs is impressive, she seems ill-at-ease with their human companions. 

Specifically, she does not answer questions until after class. She seems to believe that whatever issues one person is experiencing with his or her dog is not indicative of the rest of the class  -- despite the fact that everyone in the class has dogs approximately one year old and came from the same Puppy K class. She does not offer real-world suggestions for dealing with dog behavior, except to say what she would NOT do. 

She singles out the "best" two or three students in the class to use as examples, leaving everyone else ignored. She demands all attention on her for the entire class, getting angry if the students exchange pleasantries with each other. Again, this is a class full of adults who have been together weekly for four months. She does not inspire positive feelings about dog training or attending her class. She insists that everyone tell her we've practiced, even if we haven't, rather than address why those who aren't practicing are having problems finding the time. She again showed favoritism by announcing what students would pass CGC/TDI testing and who wouldn't, which was somewhat embarrassing for those whose dogs wouldn't pass. 

She suggested that my dog would not pass CGC/TDI testing, and that I should repeat Pet Beginner. Although I take responsibility for my dog, I will not be repeating the class with her as an instructor. 


Definitely NOT One of the Best Three Students 


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