10 May, 2015

Who's a good boy?

So it's Mother's Day. A grey day outside, though.  Perfect for being pampered: breakfast in bed (if you like that sort of thing - I wouldn't know, having never had the pleasure) the crinkle of gift wrapping in amongst the bedding, hand made cards, the rumble of cats purring at one's feet, the mirthful sound of happy children...

But that's happening somewhere else. Because in Porter Street I'm rounding up Pluto and Milo for the first of 11 obedience classes with human and canine.  (The official first was last week and just involved the humans.)  At last week's class it was made clear that Milo was going to have to be the sole handler of Pluto throughout the 12 week program.  That is if he is ever going to climb the hierarchical "pack" ladder.  So this morning I reinforced, once again, the words of the trainers:   
  • you need to stay calm
  • you need to be firm; and
  • you are the boss.
We arrived at the park and met up with the other dogs and their owners, some were really friendly, others a little nervous.  The first step, the lengthy process of making sure everyone had the right choke chains, leads and other equipment.  It took ages but gave the everyone and everydog a chance to spend some time becoming familiarised, in the same space, together, chilling out... 

OR in our case a chance for Pluto to have his first taste of being on a choke chain and pulling and coughing and pulling some more.  And for Milo to completely FREAK OUT and decide he didn't know how to deal with it and conclude that Pluto was going to choke himself TO DEATH and it was ALL BAD and he COULDN'T DO IT and it was ALL TOO MUCH!!

And that was before the class started.

I did my best to talk boy and puppy down from the precipice, but it wasn't easy because, it seems, both found their hysterical positions quite exhilarating places to occupy.  So it was only when the authoritative (but lovely) trainer, Karen, called the participants to the carpark to line up that the state of frenzy was momentarily interrupted.



Getting Milo and Pluto to line up was a tall order.  Imagine nine calm dogs with their humans and then at the tail a small, panicked boy with a four kilogram furry fish snagged and flailing on the end of his hand held fishing line.  

Envisage mad thrashing and flipping and yipping and wailing and you'll be somewhere close to visualising the performance Pluto put on, for about thirty minutes, not only for me and Milo, but also for his newly acquired classmates – all of whom much older and wiser and finding him ridiculous – for his teacher and also for all the people in the vast parklands surrounding.  

Needless to say it was very stressful for the small boy to witness and try to manage.  There were tears.

As we made our way back to the car after the class, strolling through the very soggy park, weary and a little damp of spirits too, the lady in charge of the entire dog training programme stopped us for a word.   It seems she'd been able to hear Pluto's vocalisations from two ovals away!   
Oh the shame...
Schnoodles can be quite stubborn, don't you know.  
Well, yes, actually, we do.  
So you have to let them know who's boss.   
You don't say.  
So, Milo!  You hold your ground.  Don't you back down!  And make sure you do the feeding.

So from now on Milo's going to be feeding Pluto.  And he's going to be walked with the choke chain on - I think they call it a "correction collar".  He'll learn soon enough not to pull on it.  And I'm sure the flipping and yipping will stop soon enough.  Particularly when the food treats are plentiful.

I do look forward to more favourable reportage.

Over.

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