Puppy obedience was a real eye opener this week.
Frank and I started off proceedings by practising our ‘weaves’ – for the uninitiated, this is a bit like country dancing with your dog. One puppy with accompanying owner are required to zig-zag around other stationary puppies and owners, while Sue (the trainer) repeatedly shouts ‘left foot first’. This apparently is the first rule of obedience training. Whenever you set out, you must start WITH THE LEFT FOOT. I’m not sure what happens if you start with the right. Maybe your dog’s head falls off.
As Frank and I tentatively snaked down the line of puppies and owners, its true to say our minds were on different things. I was concentrating on not chanting ‘left, right, left, right’ out loud and Frank was trying his best to ignore me and sabotage the whole exercise. He was doing his most perturbing move, which in our house has been named the ‘demented kangaroo’. Its designed to cause maximum embarrassment and gives the impression that you have no control over him whatsoever (this is 100% true). Just as Frank was really getting into his stride, Sue appeared.
‘Let me take him’, she said and after a few shaky weaves, one which involved a minor fracas with Lucy, a Shitzu cross and a bit more kangarooing, Frank was delivered back to me. Sue’s verdict was simple, Frank was trying to be top dog. Apparently, dogs are either constantly trying to re-establish their position in the pack, or, raise their standing within it. And turns out what I had thought of as Frank’s cute behaviour at home: his paw on my hand when I give him a treat, sitting on my lap when I sit on the floor, having a tussle with the lead when we go for a walk is actually Frank asserting his dominance. According to Sue, in that little head of his, he believes that these sneaky manoeuvres will end up with him calling the shots around here.
Thanks a lot Sue, when I look at my sweet pup now, all I can see is a canine Stewie Griffin. I’m worried about leaving my laptop alone in the same room as him, not because he’ll chew it, but I have a sneaking suspicion he’s going to try to arrange my assignation through it. (Although I do take comfort from the thought its going to be pretty tricky opening the thing with no opposable thumbs.) Nevertheless, Frank if you somehow have managed to work it out and you’re reading this (maybe on my iphone, oh God) I want you to know that I’m one step ahead of you. I’m on to you pal and remember, only I know where the liver treats are hidden. Mwah, ha, ha, ha.