Don’t change that channel.

I can’t think of a better way to pass the day

Hanging around, taking our ease

watching that hound a scratching at his fleas.

from The Andy Griffith Show theme song. Originally, it had lyrics.

After presenting my Genius Hour Project, one of my students asked: “Do you use anything you’ve learned training dogs in the classroom?”

I told him I could bring in carrots and praise him effusively when he did good work. The kids laughed but my active teaching and active training are two different things. For some reason, Percy doesn’t respond when I ask guiding questions. He just drools. Excessively.

Active training sometimes feels like a lot of work and I don’t always see results like I want. I have to either praise or correct the boys in 1 second or less and I am getting slow. We repeat things over and over and over and over and always try to end on a good note. Hmmm. Maybe I should try those things in teaching.

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Percy passed into the next level of training! It only took 3 months.

I do seem to have some ability to passively train both my students and my boys. They know to sit automatically when someone has food. This applies to both humans and dogs.

My students are funny about some of the things they were somehow trained to do. For some, that might come from home, too. For instance, if I take a deep breath and run my finger under my nose or a thumb across my forehead, I get an in-class weather report.

“Yes, it is hot in here.”

or

“Nope, it’s just you.”

I don’t have to say or ask anything. I have noticed that those kids who say “My mom gets like that” are then much more careful around me until I am no longer imitating a sweaty tomato. Those are the kids who don’t argue when I say I am old.

The boys have their own habits I haven’t tried to train into them but somehow stuck much better than sitting until I tell them they are free. If I start cleaning, they flop down at the gate to the kitchen because they know it is a going to be a bit and begging won’t get them treats.

The action I saw recently was brand new to me since this is my first summer with the boys and I can’t take credit for this one. As Dad went to bed shortly before 8 am, he turned the tv to an infomercial and said, “Andy Griffith is coming on.”

Good for Andy and Opie? I started to look for something with more color and I was stopped. Apparently, the boys watch, or at least listen, to Andy Griffith every day. Dad headed his way and since I couldn’t’ find another infomercial for something promising, I continued to play indoor ball with the boys.

At 8 am, whistling began. Percy’s ears perked up, he glanced at the tv and all three boys disappeared and left the ball. Weird. I got up in time to see Hass flop down in his room kennel, Percy nose open his door, and Drake sitting patiently outside his. I guess we were done playing and it was nap time.

Maybe I need theme music for my classroom… It worked for Dad so it should work for me, too, right?

We are (going to be) the champions!

We made it!

I hope I get to say that at the end of the week.  I know I made it through year 17 of teaching high school students and I am confident that Percy will make it through level 2 of training this week.

Of course, being irrationally superstitious, now I am sort of afraid that I say this and Percy will choke and we will be stuck in level 2 of training for another 6 years. I’ll still love him either way, but I would buy him a cheeseburger if he would just pass this test without deciding to claim a cone or scratch his scruff. Part of what makes me nervous is that we will be there on a different day, at a different time, and with different dogs. The practice run at the local pet store went beautifully yesterday so I am optimistic enough to share with my 10 whole followers.

Percy doesn’t seem to be nervous. He has made his way through a stuffed hedgehog, a squeaky toy, a blanket, and he is currently trying to eat a throw pillow. Obviously, he isn’t losing his appetite.

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Tasty

This (potentially false) sense of security has me contemplating the other canine companions. Which one do I focus training on next? Maybe I should put it up for a vote.

One one hand, Haas is ginormous. He is probably scaring the neighborhood since his head is roughly the size of a beach ball. He also seems to think that concrete is a great snack. I wish that part was a joke. Instead, we have to replace the ring of concrete around the neighbor’s fence because Haas keeps breaking off a chunk and bringing it in for a light snack. He also tries to jump up on people and sit on the back of the sofa like some weird cat/parrot. The jumping isn’t so exciting and frequent for immediate family because we are all a little vertically, um, limited. When average height (or the occasional tall) people come over, it’s like he is yelling “my people!” and going in for an embrace.

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Haas says “Pick me!”

On the other hand, we have Drake. Drake has really been coming out of his shell in the last few weeks. In some ways, it is wonderful. He can be so sweet and happy to see me and then the next he is launching himself off of the couch to take Haas down. He also throws tantrums like a two-year-old whenever I work with Percy on obedience training. He barks, howls, pulls in his crate cover and shreds it while slamming around inside his crate. Fortunately, our training sessions are short. Maybe the extra love of hand feeding and one on one attention won’t create a monster but make him “chill” which would be “fire.” (Just because school is out doesn’t mean I can’t keep working on my vocabulary — unless my kids and siblings are in the middle of an elaborate practical joke. In that case, good for you for being persistent!)

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Drake was too busy gnawing on Haas’s leg to ask for your vote.

So, if you feel like it, drop me a note and place your vote! Do I focus my extra time in the summer training Haas or Drake next?

We studied all week for this test! (Ok, maybe not as much as we should have)

I heard something from another teacher that made me stop and think. Other Teacher said they thought that a student was afraid to pass, afraid to succeed. Teachers actually see a few of those students every year. Most students won’t admit it. The countdown–anticipated by some, dreaded by others–continues. There are 4 1/2 days left with the kids. Six days remain until my boys get Mom almost to themselves. (Those pesky kids and Dad try to claim her but the fuzz faces will tolerate that.)

So–here’s my question. Am I afraid to succeed with Percy in his training? Is it my worry about the next level and working on off-leash obedience holding us back? Am I the kid who deliberately fails because they don’t know that the next class will actually be okay? Insert dramatic sigh and the back of my hand to my forehead.

I am pretty sure Percy won’t ever be my therapy dog. Maybe I am trying to subconsciously sabotage the obedience training so I have that to blame. I know that I will love him no matter what. He is my sweetheart. Why am I putting this on us? Percy was so close to passing his test for this level of training but broke on the last part. Maybe he will pass soon. Looks like we are headed to summer school.

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I failed again? Bummer.

Once Percy graduates, or six months pass from the start of training, I will move on to training my other boys. Haas will probably only need a few private lessons but Drake may go all the way through.  I think he is a little insecure so the extra attention will be good for him.

In general, I believe my boys, like my students, mean well. It’s so easy to believe the worst of teenagers, both human and canine, especially when they won’t listen and eat things they aren’t supposed to (you get to guess which does what). Here’s how I know they are both pretty awesome. Last week was teacher appreciation week. I had some extra blank cards that I offered to some of my classes with time on their hands. It was completely optional, but I told them they could write to one of their teachers to tell them something nice. I would be willing to deliver the cards. I figured that two or three kids would write to a teacher or so but not only did I have over half of the kids take me up on it, most of them asked to write to multiple people, including people who just might have needed their day brightened. It was worth losing my planning time to deliver those many cards. And this morning, when I had the not-so-nice-feels, Percy shared a blanket and Drake has been extra attentive.

We’re going to succeed and it may take a while. We all learn at different rates and in different ways, even Percy and me. We’ll move on like the human students and conquer our fears. If we can’t make others feel better, then at least we can keep moving forward.

If you are one of my old kids, I still believe in you so don’t be scared of the future and I won’t be either. I can’t speak for Percy, though. In the future, he may have to face his worst fear, a carrot and/or blanket shortage.

The end is near.

Percy and I had a rough week. I am certainly ready to start a new week and if he cared about time passing, I am sure Percy would be happy it is Monday and we are getting back to normal. Since this is Percy’s first spring with us, he doesn’t know the craziness/crabbiness of the end of the school year.

There are 10 days of school left and I am tired. No, not tired…exhausted, drained, frazzled, and bone-weary. It isn’t just that I am not sleeping enough (but that doesn’t help), it’s tired of fighting cell phones, missing work, and teenage hormones. I love all 127 of my kids BUT they are making my hair gray and I feel an eye twitch a-comin’. My boys don’t understand why I am perpetually annoyed and they have their own rough times.

On Thursday of last week, poor Percy experienced some gastric distress. This necessitated a bath, a kennel clean-up, and the permanent loss of his bedding. I was annoyed but not at my boy. He had to be feeling pretty rough to make a mess in his bed. I’m not sure why he thought rolling around in it would make it better. Percy didn’t get much comfort because of clean-up and clean-up of clean-up. (My tub looks awesome now, so there is that)

Baby Percy
Just over one year ago, my big baby was a little baby.

On Friday, I had to leave for 3 days and it is the longest we have been separated since Percy came to live with us. I am guessing it was harder on me than it was on Percy but I am pretty sure he missed me. My handsome boy stuck to my side for most of the evening I returned and shared his blanket scrap for 5 whole minutes! That’s a big step for the big baby.

Percy says hi
I will share my blanket if you won’t leave again.

I know in a few short weeks our training will get back on track, I will no longer look like Haas smacked me in the eyes, and there will be many leisurely walks and jogs in my canine companions’ future.

I can make it. Just a few more days and a few thousand reminders to turn in missing work. I will think paws-itively and have extra dog cuddles. I have made it through the last 16 years so #17 won’t be a loss. I promise to stop whining (about this school year) soon.

Our pack wishes yours a beautiful week and lots of carrots and happiness!

There’s a new super villain in town.

It’s a beautiful day in the neighborhood. The sun is shining, the temperature is perfect for airing out the living room. The dogs are cuddly.

While I sat in the sun with Percy at my side, I contemplated the beautiful weather and nice boys. Happily, I patted my boy and dust rose in clouds from his back. Gross.

Maybe that was a sign that I needed to vacuum. The boys were outside so the timing was perfect. There was even a commercial on tv so it was meant to be.I fired up the designed-for-pet-households vacuum and my canine superheroes rushed in to save the day! Major Percival the Pain sprinted to my side to investigate while Captain Haas staged a frontal assault on the growling beast. He retreated at the counter attack and fled, barking, to the back yard.

As soon as Major Pain’s favorite spot was relieved of dog hair and dust, he decided enough was enough. With much snarling and bared teeth, Percy lunged for the hand tool. Alas, he was no match for his sworn foe and it managed to swipe his sides until he also retreated to the back yard having suffered the loss of his protective dust jacket.

I swear I heard Drake laughing from the couch.

Is this the end of my fierce protectors? Will the evil vacuum return?

Have I been watching too many comic book movies? Will I make it through the last 14.5 days of school? (There are no bonus scenes after the credits, so you can find a different blog now. Have a nice day!)