Just a shameless brag on the wondermutt Bates was in the musical "Oliver" which wrapped last night. It's a local art academy, the director contacted my trainer/friend wondering if she knew of any dogs who look mean but are good with kids and can follow directions. Bates totally fits that bill. Well, except for the "looks mean" part. But I guess when you're a big, black muttdog, it's close enough. If you're familiar with the play, "Bullseye" is Bill Sikes' dog, Bill is the evil character who kills Nancy at the end. (Children's theatre this is LOL.) Bates had to be on stage with "Bill" for his solo, and after the song "Bill" dismisses him and Bates had to exit the stage to me. That was easy, Bates really didn't want to be on stage without me, so as soon as Bill drops the leash he trots off to find me. He got that part down. The other part he had to do was run up the theatre isle for the mob scene where the mob is chasing Bill. Someone says "there's his dog!" and the spotlight hits Bates and then he runs up the isle, out of the theatre, with the cast "chasing" him. This one proved tougher. We practiced a signal for when he has to come to me, but it turns out that when you put a spotlight on a dog in a dark theatre, the dog can't see you signal. Even if we could have worked in some sort of verbal cue, he wouldn't have been able to hear me over the orchestra and screaming mob. So I gambled on Bates being able to feel vibrations in the floor since it's an old theatre and the whole floor is wood. I re-cued the come with me hitting the floor 3 times. It worked! He rocketed up the isle every single performance. But what I'm most proud of was everything else. The maneuvering in tiny, dark spaces backstage, up and down a rickety, narrow turning staircase, dodging running actors and screaming kids. The number right before he has to go on stage is a raucous bar scene with all the actors stomping and shaking the stage and the orchestra blaring, and goofy dog just waiting in the wings occasionally looking to me for reassurance but otherwise, takes it all in stride. And this is a dog who did not get a chance to walk on 5 different surfaces a week as a pup or hear 5 different noises, any other type of effective socializing. He'd lived in the woods his whole life until we took him on at 8 months. And despite all the stress - because let's face it, it was stressful, he still was happy to hang out with the mostly children's cast off stage, get hugs and pets and constantly being "bothered". I'd tell 10 kids to give him a break, and 10 more show up to say hi. After each show, he's out in the audience schmoozing eating it all up. Unbelievable. Sorry! Just had to share how awesome (and SO not normal) Bates is! Right now he is pooped. He chased a feral cat this morning and has been sleeping ever since. Poor guy! Edit!! Required picture duh!!