Dog obedience training at the local community center was postponed a week due to inclement weather conditions. Last week, I went to an informational session without Kiah, which was nice because there were no children or dogs there. Just a bunch of harried looking dog parents with questions like “How can I get my dog to stop chasing my cat?” and “How can I get my dog to stop chasing the mailman?” and “How can I get my dog to stop chasing me?” The girl next to me was the frazzled owner of a young golden retriever. As I looked over our training materials, I commented that my dog was going to be the worst dog in the class. The girl next to me insisted her dog was going to be the worst dog in the class. The argument escalated from there, both of us stubbornly insisting we had the worst-trained dogs in the entire world. There was arm crossing and glaring. When your dog’s bad manners become a point of pride, something is wrong. It’s like bragging to New Yorkers that Rochester’s crime rate is higher than New York’s.
Anyway, yesterday was the big day. I dragged Caleb along. Walking into a room with nine other dogs, quite frankly, filled me with a lot of anxiety. Kiah used to be really good on the leash, but this past spring, she went rogue. It has become impossible to walk her. Last week, I had two elderly gentlemen say, “Who’s taking who for a walk? Ha ha ha.” Real original, guys. Real original.
Kiah pulled on her leash and started walking on her hind legs, as she is apt to do when I won’t allow her to just run up to a strange dog. Caleb grinned as I pleaded with Kiah to behave herself.
All in all, the session went pretty well. Our first lesson was to teach the dog not to pull on the leash. Then we worked on sit and topped if off with the more advanced sit/stay combination. Kiah is a smart girl and catches on quick; I just need to be more consistent. One thing I’m really good at is the high-pitched gushing that dogs respond so well to. I was praised for my dog-praising technique, which consists of baby-talk and lots of scratching behind the ears. I say things like, “She’s such a good shmooki lovey boo boo doggie woggy yes her is and I loves her! Yes I do! I loves her!” Caleb rolls his eyes at me when I talk like that.
“That’s kind of embarrassing, mom.”
“Yeah, well, you loved it when you were four months old.”
“I doubt it,” he says.
The last ten minutes are dedicated to free play, which means the owners let their dogs off their leashes and allow them to run around the gym to sniff one another’s butts. I’m a little surprised this is legal in the state of New York. The trainer explained the rules for free play. She called the most submissive dogs to the center of the gym first, followed by more friendly dogs, followed by the most dominant dogs.
Molly, a meek black lab, went first. After she was let off her leash, Molly ran with her tail between her legs to a corner, cowered, and shook like a leaf. Next went Jenny, a yippy terrier. She stood in the middle of the gym and, well, yipped. Brody the chocolate lab went next. The two Codys were called, as well as the golden retriever puppy.
Kiah was called last.
The alpha dog went last.
We have a lot of work to do these next few months.
Last night, my non-fuzzy adopted mother and my non-fuzzy adopted brother accompanied me to a special program that trains adults to perform tricks while we canines watch them with amusement. Watching my non-fuzzy mother jumping up and down like an imbecile because I sit is the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever seen. Yes, I can sit! I’ve always been able to sit. Why we’re celebrating this now is beyond me, but okay. It seems to make her happy, so I acquiesce.
There were so many other dogs there! I sniffed everyone’s butt. Every single one. There was this little tiny dog there; I’ve never seen anything like her. I took my paw and pushed her and sure enough, she kind of fell on her side. So I stepped on her, you know, just to let her know I was big and important and she was small and insignificant. Holly was mortified. She pulled me away and said, “No Kiah. Play nice.” The funny thing is, even though Holly’s bigger than I am, and I mean big- the woman is enormous- she has never pushed me over and stepped on me.
She is an inferior being.
We did a lot of walking around in circles. I’ve always been a proficient circle walker, but Holly felt she needed the practice, so we trotted around and the trainer scrutinized Holly to make sure she was performing well. She wasn’t. She was pretty much the worst walker in the class. It was kind of sad.
Then, the canines were taught how to train our non-fuzzy parents to jump up and down and make ridiculous noises when we sat and stayed. If you have the opportunity to try this at home, I highly recommend it. Watching grown men and women say things like, “She’s such a good shmooki lovey boo boo doggie woggy yes her is and I loves her! Yes I do! I loves her!” is a good time. It’s hard to believe this is the species that created the wheel, modern medicine, and those wonderful chew toys they call Nerf.
Before we left, everyone went leash-free and we had an official butt-sniffing convention. Brody peed on the side of the wall. I think he was trying to prove something, so I knocked him over and stepped on him. Holly kept trying to make me act in a manner to which I am not accustomed, and she knows I hate that. I think she’s jealous because I am social and loved by everyone, and she’s kind of shy and awkward and let’s face it, ridiculous with that high-pitched voice. I don’t know why she was even there. She did not sniff one butt. It was kind of rude.
We have a lot of work to do these next few months.