Graduation

Back in April, as you may recall, we signed up for a Level I Obedience class for the doglettes. After all, we really needed to have them trained so they wouldn’t walk all over us like the saps we are. And I bet you’ve all been sitting on the edge of your seats, on pins and needles, wondering just how this all worked out – for crying out loud, HAVE the doglettes been TRAINED or NOT??

Well, for starters, neither of us have mastered the SPITH command (Stop Poopin’ In The House). But then again, most times when we find one of those little gifts, it’s because either we weren’t paying attention to their signs (and oh, how subtle those signs can be!) or I was stuck on the phone with Comcast Customer Service trying to get my Internet working and couldn’t get them outside, thus sitting there watching Hoover drop a prezzie on the floor by the back door just centimeters shy of the poopie pad (*sigh*)

But I digress.

First, I would like to thank the Kennel Club where they were incredibly patient. Not many would have been so willing to deal with two litter-mate (sister) doglettes, attached at the hip and never been apart, being exposed to people and other dogs for the first time, incessantly barking with that high-pitched bark as only they can do, pulling on their leashes like they want to maim anything in their path, but secretly terrified of everyone they see… Just try to appear butch with that happening!

I can’t say the name of the Kennel Club we went to (because you know I never use any real names), but it was a “Kennel Club” in “Wilmington” that showed great patience, practice, and learning. And at the “Wilmington” “Kennel Club,” we learned some wonderful things in the class – the basics, like sit and sit/stay and down and stand, which are all pretty self-explanatory. We also learned a little game called touch where – when they learn it – you put your hand out, palm facing out, and say “Touch!” and they touch their nose to your palm. Ain’t that CUTE??

And we learned some of the more important commands which could one day save their lives – like the recall. This is where you call them by name and then say “Come!” in hopes they’ll come back to you and not keep charging toward that cliff in front of them. That was always my biggest fear – Ghost and/or Hoover seeing something across the street, going bat-shit crazy (like they normally do when they see anything across the street) and tearing after the object of their animosity.

But I think the most important thing we took from the class was the bonding between us. Hubby asked me the night of the last class, “What do you think of these classes? Did they really learn anything?” And I had to remind him what they were like 8 weeks ago when we started. For the entire class, from the very moment we opened the back hatch of the car to get them out of their kennel, they started barking incessantly (and that was when there were no other people or dogs – it only got more intense when there were!). It was downright embarrassing. I wanted to pretend like this was the first time either of them had ever acted like that in public (but first of all, I never would have been able to say it with a straight face; and secondly, anyone could have seen we would have been lying through our teeth!). It wasn’t until the trainer separated us – Ghost on one side of the circle; Hoover on the other side – that they finally started to calm down a little bit.

By the 8th and final week, we walked into that training facility heads held high and with confidence! Ghost and Hoover still barked a little, but I think that was just announcing their arrivals. And hell, they were even going up to people to say hello, and introducing themselves (read: “Sniff my butt!”) to some of the other dogs! But it took a lot of work to get to that stage – lots of homework, and absolute application of what we were learning.

Why, just last week, I attempted the “recall” command. Ghost was at the top of the steps sitting there, watching over the side of the stairwell. I was in the living room and thought I would test her to see if it would work. So I called out, “Ghost! Come!” in a very happy voice, and clapped my hands, and patted my knees. And sure enough she came running down the stairs right to me. Of course, when they come, you praise them because they did good! So I praised her and praised her, and scratched her head and ears and made all my “Good girl!” and “Woodja woodja woodja” sounds (don’t ask…) and she was so happy. And I was thinking to myself:

Awe! Look at that! She’s so happy! Awe! She’s just sitting there enjoying the praise! That’s so wonderful! She’s just sitting there while I … oh no … that’s not sitting … that’s … squatting! OMG! She’s squatting! She’s peeing on the living room rug! NO NO NO NO NO!! Maybe if I pick her up and move her, she’ll stop! OH NO! SHE’S STILL PEEING!!

Well, after cleaning up quite a mess from the carpeting, I duly noted that lavishing Ghost with extreme affections results in a river of happy pee.

Then on the final night of their class, when they would be graduating with honors and receive their certificate (and well-laminated, I might add, because if Ghost got too excited about graduating, we didn’t want it to wash away), we needed to get them ready for their big night like we did with every training night, and got them both into their Thunder Shirts. Let me tell you, those things really do work! But that night, it was a challenge to get them dressed. They were like children hocked up on candy. Hubby finally got Hoover in her shirt first, then promptly moved on to Ghost. But as he was putting on her shirt (she was standing in the living room in front of Hubby, facing him), and he was getting frustrated with her not cooperating, she suddenly went into a squat position.

The conversation that followed between me, Hubby, and Ghost was complete surrender. No shouting, no aggravation, no surprise, just total and unadulterated acceptance for the situation (and most of it in monotone).

Hubby: Oh, she’s peeing.

Curious Bloke: Oh, Ghost. Don’t pee on the carpet again.

Hubby: Nope. She’s still peeing. There. I got her shirt on.

Curious Bloke: We’ll, don’t scratch her ears, she’ll just keep peeing…

Then there was this long pause while we just sat there on the sofa watching Ghost in her squat position, ears back, eyes glazed, waiting for her to finish, and I was thinking to myself, “Is she never going to stop peeing?” Finally, Hubby figured he should just pick her up, even though we knew she’d still be peeing. But to our surprise (and total elation!) the carpet was BONE DRY!

Who knew? Ghost is a practical joker!

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