When I first sought out a puppy, I was thinking of rescuing a small male black lab. I had heard of Black Dog Syndrome, and a friend confirmed that black dogs/puppies were the most overlooked when it came to finding homes. SO…I began my search for a black puppy. And then I saw this frail, sweet thing with sad eyes.
And she stole my heart.
The first few days were tough. She was covered in ticks that were under her skin. Fleas. worms. Bruises on her body. And she was terrified of me. She never made a noise, just shook uncontrollably. It took a few baths, and pet visits to get her all cleaned up. But she cleaned up. And is loved. Greatly.
It’s been three months since I picked her up, and today, she is a different dog. She still cowers some but for the most part acts part kangaroo when she jumps about the place. “I love you mom. I wanna be near your face. You’re my favorite. I love this place. I want food. I love you.” That’s usually what she says when she’s jumping, in case you were wondering. She also loves my unmentionables. She loves chewing my table. She loves long walks in the park at sunset.
So with the jumping and chewing behaviors, we have started puppy classes at the Humane Society. Our first class was Tuesday. Except Page stayed at home. Kinda like PTA, if you will. I listened to the instructor tell me (us) all the things I was doing wrong, and that the chewing and jumping were my fault. I also heard that if your puppy isn’t catching on, you may be refunded your money and asked to do a private lesson. What?!!?
So our first homework assignment was to go home, take our puppy in the bathroom, and with treats in your hand, call your puppy’s name. When they look at you, give them their reward. Let them get distracted, and call their name again. Reward them. Do this three times. Do it three times, every day until your next meeting. On the 5th day, take 5 treats and call your puppy’s name WHILE they are nose deep in food. When they respond, drop the treats. Affirmation that your puppy knows its name.
So I go home, love on Page a minute, then lead her into the bathroom With three treats in hand, I call her name. She lays down. I call her name. She walks to the bathtub. I call her name. Nothing. I didn’t even get one accidental look at me. The instructor didn’t say what you were supposed to do if they didn’t respond, only “call their name, then reward them.”
Wednesday morning I woke up and thought that we should try the exercise again. Still, not one single look while her name was called. So, since then, I have braced myself for “the talk” that the instructor will have with me. I mean, if I can’t even get her to know her name, how am I ever going to get her to sit or stay. I’m also thinking that just like college isn’t for everybody, maybe we aren’t fit for training. Maybe my life with her will just be filled teeth marked tables and chair legs? I could think of them as her art that doesn’t fit on my refrigerator.
We’ll keep trying to learn our name. Or we’ll change it to “no”. I’ll keep you updated if we get kicked out of puppy class.
amanda and page