support group needed

May 6, 2008 at 10:49 pm Leave a comment

Last night, JT was feeling a bit tired from our weekend activities and mentioned that he’d like to stay home from doggy school for the evening. “Sure” I said, “no big deal.”

Look at the attention I command when I wear my training pouch! The pouch has 2 functions: it holds Barley’s training treats and makes me look like a complete dork. I didn’t want to get one, but Barley complained that he was embarrassed in front of the other kids in school when I walked around with his treats in a plastic baggy.

So I rounded up my dork pouch, treats for Barley, and Barley’s leash, and Barley and I headed to doggy school. We got there early and Barley was pretty good… he just sat and watched the other dogs while they finished up their lessons. One of last session’s instructors, Ken, was there with his dog and we let the dogs sniff each other. No problem.

At the beginning of class, Barley was a good boy – again sitting and watching the other dogs. We marched around in front of the other dogs again this week, and even that went better than last week (no tripping or puking). All was excellent. Until we started doing an exercise where we had to walk dogs in a circle around cones, posts, and chairs. Barley decided he needed to mark every. single. cone. and. post. we walked around. Uggh. I had to simultaneously hold the dog, mop up urine, and warn other dog owners to avoid the area. Three different times! In 3 minutes!

After we got over that, things were going smoothly. Barley was super-attentive last night, and was catching on to all of the commands really quickly. I was so impressed. We learned a new hand gesture for sit, and the first few times Barley thought I was telling him to lay down, because he plopped right down and looked up at me like, “I did it! Give me a treat!” He was all proud of himself. And it made me giggle. But, after a few tries, he even caught on to that. I was so proud!

But then… Enter Loverboy and Mrs. Loverboy. In previous weeks, Barley had taken an interest in Loverboy and tracked his every move. So I had been trying to avoid Loverboy and the Mrs. during class to keep Barley focused on me, and not the other dog. But, similar to other weeks, Mrs. Loverboy brings Loverboy over and positions herself and her dog right next to Barley and I. For a while, Barley successfully ignored the Loverboys. But then! Mrs. Loverboy leans over and sneaks Barley some treats, then asks him to smooch her. “Pitties are such sweethearts!” she mentions, and she should know since she has previously fostered several of them. THEN, SHE CURSES US: “Barley doesn’t seem at all interested in Loverboy tonight!” OH CRAP. “Yeah, he’s been really focused tonight, he’s really paying attention to me.” I reply. “But I shouldn’t say that, because I’m probably cursing myself.” Not even 2 minutes later, we’re standing and receiving instruction from the teacher when Barley looks over and starts barking at Loverboy. Suddenly, he wants to play with Loverboy more than anything else in the whole world. And I am trying with all my might to keep him from playing. The teacher even has to intervene at one point to get him to quiet down, which is a good thing, because at this point I look ridiculous struggling with my big old barking dog.

This is hugely embarrassing on several levels. First, at this obedience school, dogs DO NOT bark. Or make noise. Period. I haven’t figured out why that is… but when your dog starts barking, all eyes are on you. I could feel the stares. And it wasn’t great. Second, my dog is the only mutt in the class. He’s already like a second-class citizen. Because not only will my dog ever be entered in a dog show, he certainly did not come with papers describing his lineage. (We were informed when we adopted him, though, that he is a “status symbol” – so take that AKC-registered dog owners). And, third, he’s part pitbull. And we all know what a bad rap pitbulls have. So even though I know he’s playing (his tail was wagging!), I’m not sure everyone else did, and I can only imagine that their thoughts were, “oh look! another rowdy pitbull.” And Barley and I are very sensitive about sentiments like that. Poor doggy.

After that excitement, the rest of the class went smoothly, and his teacher even used him as an example. But I’m really starting to feel like between the vomit, urine, and barking, that it might be time for an obedience school support group. Either that or a stiff drink.


Entry filed under: Barley, Rants, School.

five-month frenzy please stop.

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