Illustration by Jenny Lamont
In which DD realised that both she and Sammy need training
Sheba, our Labrador-German Shepherd pup, is an absolute star pupil at puppy school, but then, like me, she will do anything for a treat in James’s hand!
Sammy, aka The Monster Maltese, had her first “accompanied walk” lesson with our trainer and me on Tuesday. The trainer was trying to make idle conversation so as to distract me from the fact that Sammy was off lead. Well, I was so wound up I could hardly talk. Combined with the fact that I am a bit of an introvert and don’t know the trainer from a bar a soap, it was no mean feat.
Incredibly, Sammy was on her best-ever behaviour, staying right at my side the whole time. This sudden transformation was astounding – it was like she was invisibly velcro-ed to my ankle. The only time she growled – yes, actually growled in a truly menacing way – was when the trainer poked her whenever she whined at me to be picked up. Apparently Sammy was doing this because the trainer was confronting her and showing her that she, the trainer, was in control. (Between you and me, I can’t say I blamed Sammy – I think I would have growled too if someone kept on poking me!)
She asked whether I carried Sammy around a lot, to which I immediately and emphatically replied “no”, Sammy being far too much of a tomboy dog to be an under-the-arm kinda princess dog (much to my regret). But with Sammy pathetically scraping with both paws at my leg in a definite “mommy-pick-up-up” manner, I somehow doubt the trainer believed me at all! And I had to try very hard not to bend down, pick Sammy up and comfort her.
Anyway. So we continued to walk briskly around the park, with me slowly starting to actually verbalise and enjoy the lesson, Sammy being a star, and the trainer giving me tips. Then the lesson came to an end. We joined the puppy class that was arriving, I took Ali (my beloved Cocker Spaniel), whom James had brought because, as deaf as she is, there was still no way she wasn’t going to notice that Sammy had been smuggled out with her mommy – and that Sheba was also going off with Dad in the car WITH her leash!
I was really keen to put the lead back on Sammy, but with the trainer’s eagle eye on me, I thought it best not to. And off we went for yet another stroll around the huge park. (Note to self: it might be better to wear takkies next time and not high-heeled boots!) And suddenly, as if a switch had been turned on – or off – Sammy turned into Devil Dog once more. She was no longer velcro-ed to my ankle. No, she was on a constant lookout to see what huge mothers-of-dogs were entering the park, half a kilometre away from us, and then would tear-arse at full speed, in killer mode, to them.
Thank goodness all the dogs in the park are socialised and basically laughed Sammy off. Trainer or no trainer, she was swiftly attached to her leash and, needless to say, by the time I got home I needed a VERY stiff whiskey! I came home feeling like a completely useless dog owner and wondered why I didn’t stick to just having cats or budgies – they are so much easier. I don’t know whether I’m brave enough to do this again next Tuesday. Or, if I do, I think I might need to dissolve a few trusty Rescue Remedy tablets under my tongue before I go; maybe a few might be good for Sammy too.