Progress...With the Dog Not the Mother

I found a perfect parking space up front at the dog manners class. Grandma sat in the front seat so she could see all the action yet remain comfortable. Mom generously held Chase on his leash while I went to find another link for his S&M collar. It had gotten a little snug and I couldn’t put the collar on.

I noticed that no matter how early I arrived at class, the evil pit bull was always there first and eagerly checked out the doggie buffet. She also took a choice spot in the waiting area with a great view of all the dogs.

One of the instructors helped me add a link to the collar. A small dog fight broke out among three of the dogs in the waiting area. Another instructor reprimanded the owners and told them that socializing among the dogs was not allowed.

I found my mother by the minivan and we put Chase’s torture collar on. I then found a secluded place well behind the pit bull and away from the dogs who “socialized” too much. Mom sat at a picnic table with her book. About three weeks ago, I met another owner who arrived each week with his full-figured wife and their 10 month-old well-fed Golden Retriever. He always approached me and said hello to Chase and asked me all kinds of questions about my dog. He told me that Chase was so beautiful and sweet. Now I had visions of “PUPPY STALKER” running through my head.

This Sunday, Puppy Stalker approached me and began to pet Chase. He said that Chase would make a great running dog if I ever decided to take up running. I told him that Chase loved to run and was very fast. Puppy Stalker agreed and said that he was amazed at how fast Chase was when he was running with him in the field. Shocked, I realized that my dear mother apparently let a STRANGER run around the field with my puppy while I was adding a link to his collar! I sent an evil curse in her general direction and vowed never to trust her again.

Class was now in session so Chase and I ran over to join our quickly diminishing group. Down to five dogs now and that included Chase. First, we practiced all of the things from the weeks before. We got to walk our dogs in a circle to the commands of an instructor. Chase and I were really good at the “Slow”, “Normal” and “Fast” commands. Even the “About-Face” and “Halt” were perfect. It was on the “Turn Left” and “Turn Right” that the trouble began. For those of you who truly know and love me…”left” and “right” are not my strongest suit. I had the leash tangled up between both hands and was unable to look at them to determine which hand formed the “L” shape. This is the only way I can remember left and right. As an instructor approached us, I quickly explained that it was not the dog’s fault that I didn’t know my left and right. The instructors looked at each other and one nodded and said “handler error.” I also heard choked laughter coming from the picnic table where Mom was sitting alone. Her two small companions of classes past were absent.

Next we practiced figure eights. Because the aggressive dog class was so small this week, too, one of the instructors came over to our class to watch. I was actually grateful because he took one look at Chase and announced to the class and the regular instructors that “this dog was a hunting dog and was never ever gonna to want to walk slow”. I felt especially smug because the regular instructor always used her prissy terrier to demonstrate new and exciting moves. Her terrier, Katie, pranced around the arena on tippy-toes.

The instructors decided that our dogs were ready for a good citizenship practice run. While one instructor passed out the AKC Good Citizenship pamphlets to all five of us, the other explained that this was a great certificate to get because it could reduce your homeowners insurance if your dog happened to be on the aggressive dog list.

I glanced over at the Aggressive Dog Class and wondered why the pamphlets weren’t being passed out there. Basically, to get the certificate, your dog must pass a series of tests and then is declared a “good citizen”. Unfortunately you must use a regular collar while taking the test. I will need to gradually ease Chase off the S&M collar so he too can become a “good citizen”.

We then practiced a series of “stays”. First up was “Sit and Stay” for 2 minutes. Chase got very bored with this after 30 seconds and lay down to find a stick to chew on. I had to drag him back up. Two minutes seemed like an eternity when I constantly had to drag my puppy off the ground. Next was “Down and Stay” for 2 minutes. Chase was very good at this. Matilda the hound dog was down but in a position to “spring” back up.

The instructors stayed near her to see if this would happen. It didn’t. Finally it was the dreaded “Stand and Stay”. Most of the dogs did not do well and Chase was no exception. He would stand for 10 seconds and then sit. I will have to work on that.

While the instructors praised us and went into great detail about how much progress each dog had made, Mom yelled from the picnic table that she would no longer need the 2x4. One last class and the adventure will be over. I do find it strange that I have met a lot of new people and I can only remember their dogs’ names!

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