Photographer A. J. Windless    
Tecumseh Wins a Trophy
From the time that I brought Tecumseh home as a puppy I could see  that he was an exceptionally intelligent dog. I trained him to sit, stand, stay, come, lie down, roll over, and a dozen other commands, all of which he learned rather quickly and easily. I even taught him to hold a treat on top of his nose until I released him with,"Okay!" At this time he would flip the treat up into the air and then snatch it out of mid air so quickly  that you could barely see it. The way he did it was so impressive that people usually laughed, and he even won a trophy for that trick at a dog show we attended. I felt that because he was so intelligent he would do well in obedience competition, so we found the best trainer in Utah and began attending her classes. She was excellent. At the obedience shows in Utah all the blue ribbons were usually won by dogs in her classes. Nevertheless, obedience competition wasn't what I thought would be. Don't get me wrong, Tecumseh loved it. While we were training all of my focus was on him, and he thrived on that. We went to obedience classes for about a year at which time I quit. I just didn't feel it was very rewarding. The whole process made me feel like we were in the military. It wasn't enough that Tecumseh had to sit, but he had to sit perfectly square facing exactly forward. No sitting on his leg or foot, no leaning in on me, or any other inexactness. When he heeled he had to walk with the hole in his ear exactly at the seam in my pants. This meant that all the things I had already taught Tecumseh I had to teach him over because the way he did them didn't meet their standards. "Boring and irrelevant" was how I felt about it. My thinking was that I would have more fun teaching him a thousand cute little tricks, never mind that none of them "lined up" perfectly. About a year after we quit these classes I decided to give it another try, but it was even more boring than before because now we were starting from the beginning for a third time. Tecumseh, however, did very well. One day, for example, our instructor introduced us to the hurdles. In our previous studies we had never done the hurdles before. No problem, Tecumseh jumped right over the hurdle the first time while all the other dogs ran around the hurdles. We came back the next week and he again was just flying over the hurdles looking like he enjoyed it while the other dogs continued to run around the hurdles. Our trainer asked, "How much time did you spend at home this week getting him to do that?" I didn't even have any hurdles at home. When I told her we hadn't done anything she replied, "That is disgusting! Do you have any idea how many hours most people have to spend to get their dogs to do this?" Even though I had never taken Tecumseh to an official obedience show, from the very beginning he had always done well. One one occasion our trainer said, "You know it's too bad you don't show him, it's so rare to see a dog of his breed do so well." I, on the other hand, was beginning to feel we would get more intrinsic value out of training Tecumseh in "Search and Rescue" (have you read my story about how well he could sort out a trail from a mumbo jumbo of other trails?)
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