My dog makes the other dogs look good. You’re welcome, classmates.

What a weekend capped off by a trying Monday with the terrible trio. I’m now ready to go back to school. Thanks, boys.

Friday, Drake stopped jingling. We may be slackers here and left on some extra tags from Drake’s rescue days. It’s the same idea as a bell on a cat’s collar. The big boys really should get some warning before a Drake attack. Dad looked at Drake and discovered he was naked. Where was his collar? No one knew. My theory was that Haas was dragging Captain Wigglebutt around the yard by his collar again and managed to hit the clasp juuuuuust right. Fortunately, Dad retrieved the collar so we don’t have to replace his Smart Tag, name tag, and rabies tag.

Saturday was going to be much better. This was Percy’s group obedience class. I hooked up Percy’s training collar and we had a nice, well-behaved, walk to the car. He even sat nicely in the car for the entire trip without trying to wedge his head in my armpit.

We picked up Oldest Child from a sleepover and sat through the entry-level class with no problems.  My dog was being good! He did what he was supposed to and sat quietly, even when being fussed at by an adorable German Shepherd puppy. He was even calm when two Malinois came through and the owners addressed Percy by name.

You see, Percy is a bit notorious. Everyone knows Percy. This is not because he is the only lab in class, but because he gets called out in class. Like, a lot. Lately, it has been much better and he even got praise last week for doing really well with a new concept.  Way to go, Percy! We are getting this! Or, so I thought.

Class began well. Percy heeled like a champ, sat when he was supposed to, and responded to my cues. Then, we started on distractions. Just like we have been practising (with no trouble) for weeks, I put my leash on the ground, stood on it, and clapped. Percy took off, barking and having a complete freak-out. Ugh.  I could handle this, but still.  And he kept going….and going… and finally, the owner stepped in, couldn’t get Percy to calm down. He was sent outside for a timeout.  After a few minutes to calm down (and have an unscheduled potty break, ew), we went in and Percy did well for the rest of class. I apologized to the Mal owner next to me who keeps getting stuck with Percy and she said “It’s okay. We love Percy!”  It’s easy to love a dog who makes yours look like a dream.  I am choosing to look on the bright side and claim this as a service to other’s handler’s self-esteem.

Today, the trials continued with preventative pill day. We give our boys a combo chewable that is supposed to prevent heartworms, fleas, and other random worms and parasites that I would rather not witness. This can be a chore as it is the one thing Haas and Percy won’t eat without much strife. I decided to be tricky today. I buried it in the boys’ food bowls and locked them in their crates so they couldn’t steal each other’s pills.

I watched closely without looking like I was watching.  Haas gets shy and stops eating. Drake snarfed his food and pill and was released from his crate.  I checked the bottomless pit Percy and he managed to overlook his giant pill in the grooves of the slow-down bowl. I handed it to him and he dropped it and looked away. Apparently, there is a limit to what this stinker will eat.  Haas, in the meantime, had picked his pill out of his bowl and moved it quite far from his food bowl. There was no way he was eating it. Hmmm… what to do next.

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Haas doesn’t like these hard pills. Apparently, concrete is softer and tastier.

Oldest Child had a plan.  Just peanut butter wouldn’t work so maybe a treat of a peanut butter sandwich on unhealthy white bread would do it.  The big boys would get 1/4 of a pb sandwich with the pill in the middle. Drake, not to be left out, would get 1/4 of a sandwich with a treat in the middle. Percy’s disappeared in one gulp.  Haas bit into his, split the pill in half, and spit out half a pill while eating the sandwich.  Good thing we had another 1/4 sandwich.  Finally, it went down and the big boys could be free.

Fortunately, all is forgiven, and my faithful friends are by my side again. I’m so glad Percy’s classes are almost over and I don’t have to do pill time again for a month.

Hope your weekend and Monday was much more fun!  Have a wonderful week and we hope you stop by again next time.

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.

Today, the terrible one is on two feet is me.

We are at a frustrating point of training. This isn’t Percy’s fault. He is a terror, yes. However, the fault fully lies on my shoulders. I lack patience. That’s the nice way to put it. If you want the honest truth, starving newborns have more patience than I do. Sugared- up, Mickey Mouse obsessed toddlers at their first trip to Disneyland have more patience than I do.

I want Percy to understand what I want him to do and not have to keep repeating things over and over and over. I want him to “down” and stay down and not imitate an overwound jack in the box.

I don’t want to have to hand feed him every meal and I don’t want to have to use a special training collar and I don’t wa0nt to have to spend another month in the basic level class.

But, I don’t want to give up. He is worth it. He is worth searching the depths of my being for the last scraps of patience that I managed to secret away after a day of dealing with teenagers who are done for the year. Few of them also mean to drive me to distraction; its just a side effect of 16.

I have been so focused on trying to be what my kids need me to be that I think I have neglected my sweet, crazy boy. I am not as understanding as I need to be with a creature who wants to do what I ask. I am also not as forgiving and calm with myself as I should be.

I don’t know how to fix that. I don’t know how to change a basic tenet of me. It is probably one of those traits I would be most likely to change about myself. When I was younger, I wanted to be thinner and prettier. Now that I am older, while being thinner and prettier would be awesome, what I really want is patience to help people more. I want the patience to make the changes that I need to make personally and professionally. I want the patience wait for those rewards that require my effort and work.

I love to make plans so I will finish my night making plans for success. I’m not sure if it will work since I seldom follow my plans, but maybe I can put post-it notes around my house telling myself to breathe, start over, change takes time, etc. Pinterest is probably full of those inspirational type things. Maybe I can go old-school and write “I will not lose my temper and say bad words” one hundred times.

Maybe Percy and I can just take a night and do something fun. Maybe we won’t do any work tomorrow night on his sit/stay and down/stay. Maybe we’ll play catch with carrots and I will give him a new blanket to shred. Maybe I’ll make the boys a bowl of popcorn and throw it up in the air and they can eat the “snow” in the living room.  Then, as a treat to myself, I’ll make the teenager and preteen clean up any leftover mess (not likely to be much of one with these bottomless pits).

Maybe tomorrow I will take a page out of Percy’s book and not be normal. I’m too old to sit on my head like he does, but I’m sure I’ll come up with something. I’m done whining now. If you stuck around to read this mess, thank you for your patience. If you didn’t, I still think you are awesome but you just won’t know it.

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Percy is a smart boy but he can’t seem to figure out how to use a sofa. This is how he sits when he wants a snuggle

 

Our report card said “F-“

Last year, I started doing a project in my classes where the students were able to spend about 20% of our time learning about whatever they wanted and designing their own projects.  I did the project along with them and made a quilt.  It was great! (The project was great. My quilt was sad-looking but I was still proud of it.)

This year, my project was Percy. I thought I might work on training him so that maybe, someday, he would be a therapy dog and help out my kids. I know it will be a few years but he needs to be trained. This will be great! It will be awesome! I can be efficient and train my boy at the same time I am showing my students that we should always learn! (In September, I still think in exclamation points. In February, I think in tears.)

The first trainer I talked to seemed a little hesitant to work with a then-intact lab puppy. She agreed to show up at our house and help us train my well-meaning sweetheart. She never showed up. She never called. Things then got a little hectic as the holiday season advanced so I put off finding a replacement.

As the project was progressing and I needed to move forward, I looked into a training center in another town (because apparently you have to belong to a secret society to find a trainer in my town). It was a bit more expensive but they claim that I should be able to get Percy through six levels of training in 6 months. Percy should then be awesome at obedience. Sounds good. I can do this. Percy can do this. We can do this, together!

Saturday morning, we are ready to go. I got Percy leashed up, we stopped for treats because I forgot to bring them in my excitement, and it was finally time. We had this.

When I got there, the trainer told me that Percy didn’t have the right collar for training so she lent me one. Oops. Oh, well.  We will listen and be model students. We aren’t going to be that kid. We find an empty spot on the floor and the trainer goes over different types of collars and talks about the different levels and that it is fine that there are brand new people today.

It was time to make the dogs sit on our left and then walk around cones.  I take a step and Percy takes off, dragging me behind him, even with the different collar.  We get maybe halfway around the room and the trainer stops everyone. We have to drop down to something more basic.  I don’t know that it was our fault, but Percy was the only one who kept dragging a grown woman 5 feet in every direction away from where he was supposed be sitting.

Then, it happened.  In the midst of a class of a dozen dogs and handlers, Percy decides that this is the perfect place to drop a few pounds. I was mortified and didn’t have a bag. The whole class has to stop again as we find a bag and a mop.

Class resumes and we make it 1/4 of the way around the room and the whole class has to stop again. Percy had decided to force me to meet every dog waiting for the next level class. The entire group is told about additional, private, lessons that are offered in case things weren’t explained so that people could understand them. Was that aimed at me? Probably.

Homework for this week is to hand feed the dog right next to us (gross) to help teach the dog to heel and work on sit and down. I don’t think we are supposed to work on walking on the leash but it was hard to hear over the sound of all of the blood rushing to my cheeks.

Looks like we are going to summer school.