Summit: Carter Extraordinaire

Today, we took Summit to his first ever carting lesson. What exactly is a carting lesson? Well, it is where a dog (Bernese Mountain Dog to be exact) is taught how to pull around a cart. Why do you exactly teach a Berner to do such a thing? Mainly because that is what they were bred to do (same reason why I eat potato chips). Now, is there a major need to have a dog pulling around a cart in Brantford? Well, not really, but it does provide me a much lazier way to get beer and also, I think Summit pulling Crosby around in a cart would be the greatest picture ever. Besides those things (even with the first desire, I'd have to teach him to open a fridge first), there is admittedly little reason for Summit to be a cart puller. But it isn't so much the skill, but rather what the training provides.

There really are three reasons why we want Summit in cart training, and thus will continue to take him. The first being that it is yet another place for socialization, and as a puppy, it is great to get him accustomed to as many dogs and people as possible. Though in this case, it is only Berners that are there, but it is still more socialization than he would get in our living room. The second reasons is that once Summit gets over the whole, 'Oh no, this ghost wagon is hounding me wherever I go!" he is actually supposed to love carting and thus, we want to take him because it is fun. Finally, it yet another opportunity for obedience training -- or moreso, training and tips for his owners. Summit is already a pretty easygoing, smart and obedient dog, but I definitely see that every session he goes to as a benefit for all of us.

As for the events of today, Summit never got around to pulling an actual cart. Since he has never done it before, it was decided we probably shouldn't traumatize him immediately. Berners are known to not really like new things, thus the gradual approach is better. Summit definitely follows that trait. A few weeks back, our neighbours built a small play fort for their sons, since it was small, it was completely put up in an afternoon. So, when Summit was let out that evening after Emily came home from work, he saw this new contraption for the very first time. Despite the fort minding its own business and staying rather still, Summit proceeded to bark at it while running all around it. The next few times he went out, he would still give the fort a little growl, just so it knew who it would be messing with if it decided to move on to his yard. So yeah, he isn't such a fan of new things.

Today, the first part was designed to get him used to wearing a harness. Surprisingly, Summit didn't react to it at all. He was fine with running and playing with this new outfit on him. Then he proceeded to the dragging around of a stick which is part of the carting contraption. He didn't really seem to mind that either. So then, it was time to upgrade to a jug. At first, Summit didn't seem to like the idea of this magical jog that followed him everywhere. Eventually, he got used to the traveling jug. All in all, he handled it fairly well, even if he occasionally had to look back at it.

Pulling around a jug may seem like a rather silly endeavor, but it will hopefully get him used to the idea of an object dragging behind him that makes noise. Hopefully, he will eventually be ready when that jug turns into a cart. Well, the jug won't actually ever turn into a cart. It isn't really a magical jug. Hopefully, his jug experience will prep him for the giant object with wheels that will follow his every move. At the end of today's lesson, I was really proud of Summit. Yes, I was proud he was able to drag a jug around and not wet himself out of fear. It is called small victories.

Speaking of fear, Summit encountered a horse today, and actually, he did a good job of showing very little interest towards the encounter. This is good news because a few weeks ago, he proved to be quite the horse chicken. We were taking him for a walk when he discovered some horses on his travels. I am pretty sure he thought they were really ugly dogs on steroids. Since he is opposed to ugly and steroids, he proceeded to bark at them. They proceeded to stare at him. So, he continued to bark, but this time he barked while backing away. Then for the next ten minutes of the walk, he would constantly look behind himself. I am convinced he was trying to make sure they were not stalking him for the intent of devouring him. I think he still has nightmares of giant, mutant, steroid dogs that chase him in fields. But today, he at least did a good job of pretending he hasn't been haunted by the nightmares. Keep up the denial, Summit.

Today's take home lesson is that my dog will be a master carter, while also remaining a chicken. Sort of like me, except for that whole ability to cart thing.