Human Lessons at Obedience Class

Since BJ is in charge of dogs, he’s the one who takes them to obedience class usually, but summer has given me the chance to come along too.  Petey and I spend a lot of time together anyways (well, on the couch), so I thought that he’d be more likely to listen to me when we actually got to class.

Wishful thinking.

Petey is a giganto dog.  His arm muscles are bigger than mine.  His head is bigger than mine.  His neck is thicker than three of mine.  And yet he will let me open up his jaws with my tiny hands and fish out contraband Chapstick from the back of his mouth without the slightest bit of resistance.

As soon as we got to the field for obedience class, Petey went crazy with excitement.  Other dogs?  New friends?  Must. Play. With. Everyone.

I dragged that dog all over that field.  My fingers and knuckles are still raw from constantly redirecting him with the leash.  I’m so sore that it took everything in me to use my hands to twist open our jug of Carlo Rossi tonight.

All things considered, though, Petey did great.  I felt powerful afterward — aside from all the blisters I had gotten and promptly ripped open.  But — oddly — I figured out that some of the commands we worked on with the dogs are actually perfect for my own behavioral quips.

“Settle.”  If a dog is afraid or excited, this command gets them to sit and start the process of calming down.  For me, it makes me stop freaking out about something trivial (someone’s not returning my emails, cooking bacon has filled the unit with smoke, etc.), go sit down, and distract myself by thinking about how wonderful our little life really is.

“Leave it.” For dogs, this is good for squirrels.  For me, it’s good for bookstores and those 900 calorie chocolate milkshakes at Chick-fil-a.  This is also ideal for adorable toddlers prancing around in Where the Wild Things Are garb and light-up sneakers — for getting me away from playing with them, that is.

“Look at me.” Passing by another dog and you don’t want your dog to see it?  Use this command so your dog only pays attention to you.  My speaking voice doesn’t carry well, so BJ uses it when we’re grocery shopping and I try to talk to him with my face buried in the tomatoes. It’s not Saturday if I haven’t heard, “Love, look at me.  I’m not hearing actual words.”

All three of these are meant to redirect a dog (or me) to what’s more important: not letting the circumstances around me dictate any annoying, silly moods.

Why do I talk so quietly when I grocery shop?  Because I don’t want everyone else to hear a loud person yapping down the cereal aisle.  But then, who really cares?  It’s just groceries.

Is it good for me to consume 900 calories of chocolatey, milky tastiness?  Sometimes, yes.  Mostly no.

Will the smoke clear up in our unit that now smells like bacon?  The dogs hope not.

1 Comment so far

  1. B. J. Parker

    One of your best blogs yet. Your tone, rhythm, and content were all perfect!

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