Kibble and Water : Honey’s Field Trip to the Barrier Island Museum

by: Marlene email

Doggie Networking -- Meet and Greet Time

Dogs and museums are not usually thought of  as being at all compatible.   But that kind of thinking  is  sooo  yesterday now that   Laura   Vaughan,  the  director of the Barrier Island Center, ( BIC to  those who know it well ) ,   is making  BIC  the de rigueur destination for Eastern Shore doggy field trips.   Saturday was the first in a series of   “field trips for dogs”   to  be held under the tall, shady oaks at  the Center.

Under the  expert direction of   Beth Ann Sabo,  a certified local dog trainer,  Saturday morning’s  experience started out  a little like an old time  country social  but with kibble treats and pans of water instead of  picnic baskets and lemonade !   It was a “doggy socialization”  event and my daughter  brought her Newfie puppy,  Honey,  for a little  “meet and greet”  with the 10 other dogs in attendance.  As anyone knows who has recently gotten a puppy and has purchased a  “how-to”  book ,  the modern standard for  socializing a puppy is to make sure it is equally at home around a variety of  dogs  as well as people.   The mantra for this  is   “100 dogs and 100 people in the first 100 days”    because the first 3 or 4  months of a dog’s  life and the experiences it has during those  3 or 4 months  imprint the dog for life.  Basically the experiences and training a dog receives during that time determine  whether it will be a friendly, timid or aggressive dog  in its relations to both people and to other dogs.  Beth Ann says that most dogs that are sent  to the SPCA are placed there  before they are two  years old,  primarily  as a result of a  lack of  early proper socialization and training by  their owners,  who then get rid of  the dog  because of  resulting bad behaviors.   Having once had a dog for 12 years who loved all humans but who never met a dog she didn’t hate,  (which was, of course, a real problem),  my daughter is working hard to see that  Honey does get properly socialized to  dogs as well as  people.   She jumped at the opporunity to bring Honey to the BIC party to meet  puppies  of  different breeds  and temperaments. 

K-9 Toys

So the dogs  introduced themselves the old fashioned doggie way, sniffing, licking, sniffing, licking  and then  some more sniffing.   And  no  ordinary “Spot” or  “Rover”   names for this crowd  —  instead  Honey the Newfoundland met  Hilda the English Bulldog,  Frolic  the Norwich Terrier,  Ginger the  Golden Retriever,  Trey the Beagle and Rupert the Italian Greyhound, to name just some  in the group.   Beth Ann remarked as she was about to get down to the “work” of  the morning  that she had hoped for a variety of  breeds  for this first session but could not have imagined such an eclectic mix  as a Newfoundland and an Italian Greyhound.   Then dogs and owners settled into a few tasks;  coming when called by name to improve focus and response;  owners switching dogs with other owners   to improve socialization with unfamiliar persons;  sitting, greeting and then passing  by another dog ( which, as  anyone who has ever watched a Cesar Millan show knows,  can be a bit dicy). 

The final  lesson involved having  all the owners stand in a long line, their dogs  by their sides. Then, one by one,   Beth Ann came down the line to hold the leash so the owner could walk  about 20 feet out into the  clearing and call their dog to come to them.  Honey was near the end of the line.  Being a hot July day and she being a furry Newfoundland,  by now  Honey was hot and a bit tired.   While all the other dogs were sitting and paying attention,  she  was sprawled out,  completely relaxed,  just taking it all in.  So,  when my daughter strode out and confidently called her name ,   Honey  just raised her head and gave a look which clearly said,  in her most  gracious Southern Dogese,    “Girl, I know you’ve got to be kidding.  You’ve had me running around for an hour now,  my feet  are killing me and I’m taking a load off.  Definately I’m not running out into the hot sun for some measly treat. ”   (If she were a Bronx dog she would have yelled   ” Forgeddabout  it !”   which would have totally said it all.)    Well, I had just resigned myself to the idea  that Honey was going to be the only dog in the entire class to  fail   “Run to Your Owner”   when up she jumped and  out she ran. And she got  the measly treat– plus  a lot of praise from her very  nearly embarrassed owner !

Will They Come When You Call ?

 The hour was up, doggies were ready to hit the  lunch trail,  as were owners.  We stayed to talk to Beth Ann a bit and learned that she gives private training lessons for dogs as well as the group sessions.  She will even travel to an owner’s home to work with a dog in its normal environment.  (For anyone who is interested,  learn about her certifications and contact Beth Ann  through her website– ).   After that  we stayed a little bit longer to talk to Laura Vaughan about some of the great work the Barrier Island Center  ( is doing to educate and inspire children here on the Shore  (which in itself  will be  a future blog post).   Laura invited all of us inside,  including Honey,  who promptly found an air conditioning register and plopped herself right down on it,  perfectly at home.  Laura’s philosophy is that people who love the Center also usually  love dogs.  So,  the more the merrier.   And that’s  how Honey the Newfie became the first dog  in our family to tour a  real live museum.   As I often say, only on the Eastern Shore !

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