Graduation Day

It was a beautiful fall day when Chase graduated from dog manners and agility school. I arrived on the scene with my mother and grandmother who had become my ardent supporters. I found a nice patch of clean grass to sit with Chase. Mom parked herself on the picnic table with graduation cake for the dogs and cookies for the owners. She broke off a piece of cake and offered it to Chase. He promptly spit it out. She offered another piece to a dog sitting nearby. He spit it out too. Both dogs eyed her cookie, but she mercilessly stuffed it into her mouth. "All gone!" she declared making a big show of her empty hands.

A group of fat ladies were also parked at the picnic table and discussed the Atkins diet versus the South Beach diet as they filled up on cookies and diet cola. I wondered if they would start eating the doggie graduation cake once the cookies were gone. Mom decided to fill everyone in on how I never practice training the dog. I marched over to the table and informed the dieters that she was making that up and the dog received my entire lunch hour every day for practice. One woman glanced at my mother and said that it really only required 15 to 20 minutes each day. Oh - so now I was practicing TOO much.

The Doggie Stalker came over and gave Chase a treat, which he eagerly took.
I made a mental note about training Chase to not take treats from strangers. I was grateful that this would be the last time Chase would be subjected to the Doggie Stalker.

Class began and because my group was now down to three - we merged with the aggressive dog group. At first it was like a scene out of "Survivor: Doggie Island". Each dog and owner fought for the spot that they were used to. I moved to the very end hoping to avoid any aggressive dog/owner. Eventually it was sorted out and I ended up with Chip to my left (a black Lab from my original group) and Babe the “Demonic Pit Bull With Icy Blue Evil Eyes” to my right. Not only was I completely horrified to be in such close contact with the devil dog - I couldn't believe that the overalls-clad owner had named her Babe.

First we practiced walking and heeling and turning left and right. My dog was a pro and I was actually good at the left and right turns. Next we were divided into groups of three for the figure eights. Chip and Babe were in my group. I was really beginning to believe in karma. All of these weeks I had been relentlessly vilifying the evil pit bull and now I was inches away from her! Chase performed perfectly on the figure eights. Babe, however, was a different story. The trainers finally decided that the group of three next to us was too close because Babe and a massive weapon of destruction in the form of a German Shepherd kept snarling at each other. In the meantime, Chip and Chase and their owners were cowering. I am terrified of German Shepherds and would take the Pit Bull from the Bowels of Hell any day over Rin Tin Tin.

The trainers then divided us into groups of two. Someone up there must really have a sense of humor because once again, I was paired up with Babe the Pit Bull. Each of us faced the other from opposite ends of the ring. Then we were to perform the "Meet and Greet". This involved a stroll toward each other, then a stop, and then the owners shook hands. Then you had to PET the OTHER DOG!!!!!!

I had to pet Babe the Pit Bull! And, might I add, she GRINNED at me the whole time. I was waiting for that dog to lunge at my throat and grab on! Babe's owner had a death grip on her collar so the dog did not eat me. Yep…they are so misunderstood.

Finally it was time for the graduation ceremony. A few owners hummed the graduation march theme song and one by one, our dogs names were called and they were awarded a fancy certificate. I was so proud! Matilda the hound dog got the Most Improved award. The little punting dogs (aka Sugar pie) were once again playing hooky. I suppose discipline is not needed when the dog weighs only 5 pounds.

Grandma beamed with pride at Chase’s fancy certificate. My dog was trained. Supposedly.

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