Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Truth and Lies

I decided to blog about my "truth" and my "lie" since they both involve things I'm personally involved with and enjoy: my dogs and my music.

Okay, time to be honest. My lie: I never competed with my Border Collie mix Katy in a Northern Colorado agility event. My truth: I did indeed sing at a Sunday morning Mass at Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris in front of 1000+ people.

Now, for the details. I have done obedience training with three of my dogs, sweet old Rottie Carl, scary smart Katy, and crazy Blue Tick Hound Max, now a teenager. Obedience training makes it easier to live with big dogs and actually helps them be "better citizens" when they interact with other people, especially people who're afraid of dogs. Basic commands of sit, down (lie down), stay, come---are commands you use every day with dogs, and if the obedience sessions are taught by loving, dog-centered professionals, your dogs actually LOVE doing the commands. It's a big doggie game. And they do it to please you.

Maybe I was lucky, but I heard about Vince and Tammy by word of mouth a few years ago when Katy was a feisty one-year old. This husband/wife trainer team have a large kennel and training facility (American Dog School) on a farm on the outskirts of Fort Collins, CO, my town. I'd done obedience years before with my dear Sam who was a Lab/Rottie mix and knew the benefits. Those trainers, like so many others, used food treats to gain the dogs' cooperation. Well, imagine my surprise when I learned that Vince and Tammy teach even more to their canine charges and don't use food to do it. Honest. The dogs do it for love. Yep. You stop every few minutes and "love 'em up." Rub your dog's head and ears and gaze into their eyes and tell them what a "good dog" they are. Doncha love it? That technique could be used in a lot of situations, not just dog training.

Okay, now the details behind My Truth---I have been singing with chorales and solo and in duets and small groups since I was about eight years old. Music has always been a huge part of my life, and I loved performing onstage with all those various groups---through school years, in college, and in adult life. During the years I sang with several chorales, we would take a smaller group on tour every three years to various overseas locations. Once to Germany & Austria, another time to England, Scotland, & Wales. And, in June 2001, we spent 15 glorious days touring France.

In Paris, our chamber chorale actually participated in the 11:00am Sunday Mass by providing the sacred music. We sang Mozart's Missa Brevis, which is a beautiful musical gem. Our group had submitted an audition tape the year before and had been selected. That awe-insipring cathedral was packed with tourists and regular folk. The acoustics were amazing, as our voices wafted up into the vaults above and floated past those famous stained glass windows. It was truly a magical musical moment for all of us.

Do you have any "famous building" memories? Any dog training stories? Please share them.