Saturday, August 15, 2009

School Of Dog

Ellen was very excited to be going to her first day of school on Thursday after her Very Big Adventure, and was even more excited when she saw the bag of sausages and cheese I'd packed for her play lunch.

The instructor was right last week.  Every dog was very, very excited, and there was lots of power-wagging, butt-sniffing and rolling over to present bellies to bigger, more frightening puppies.

We were placed in the "Beginners' A" class, which is for dogs that aren't puppies, but are keen to continue their education and better themselves.  Unfortunately this meant we weren't in the same class as the ferret dog, so I can't report on what it looked like, but this should give you some idea:

Despite the lack of ferret, Ellen has some interesting class-mates.  Her new best friend is the smallest dog in the class.  Not ferret-sized - perhaps adolescent marten, or even stunted pole-cat (marbled, that is, not the steppe pole-cat).  We shall call her Weasel-face.

The largest dog is a german shepherd that was described by his handlers as "nervous," but is, in fact, a psychopath and had to be kept ten metres away from the rest of the class.  Occasionally I saw him licking his drooly jowls and fixing Weasel-face with the same look I have been known to direct at a plate of pastizzi.  We shall call him The Hound of the Baskervilles.

The rest of the class is pretty much comprised of staffy-crosses, with the odd small bristly terrier thing.  We don't have names for any of those.

The first class was focussed on communication, and getting your dog's attention.  The way to do this is to hold a piece of sausage between your eyes.  

I can report that it does not work without the sausage.  I'm not sure how to fix this.  Sure, it's OK to get around the house with a frankfurter taped to my forehead, but I can't really maintain that if we go out.  Sometimes I accidentally have smallgoods stuck to my face, but the Fella usually makes me remove them if we're in company.  I may have to go with a discreet smear of lard.

Another thing we practised was walking on a loose lead.  Well, when I say we "practised" it, I mean that eleven dogs walked nicely across the grass, and I was dragged on my face, screaming and trying to wield a sausage of obedience.  The instructor said not to worry, it was just adolescence.  That was good news.  I will only have to wait until Ellen is two years old for her to grow out of it.

The last thing we practised was getting our dogs comfortable with us touching them all over.  Why, we asked?  Well, the instructor said, it's in case we ever need to remove a tick from their anus.  Of course!  I was hoping that was one of the things on the syllabus.  I'm thinking that if The Hound of the Baskervilles gets anything in his anus that his owners will be pretty happy to leave it there.

Am excited to learn what vital skills we'll pick up next week.

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