Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Ah, the early years

A lot of my friends say that even though their mothers are the best and their childhoods were idyllic, when those same mothers become grandmothers, a switch flips and they tend to forget the trying times that come with raising any small child. It seems that after 30 years pass, child-rearing takes on a misty, golden "you ate everything I gave you and were potty-trained by 12 months" quality. While unrealistic and frustrating for the new mother who wants to commiserate with her mother, it's still nice. After all, who wants to hear that they were a ball of terror whose mother would have gladly donated her child to charity given the chance?

Now, I know good and well that dogs and children are not the same thing, but I do think that there might be some overlap when it comes to erasing memories of those trying early years. And since we don't have children but we do have a dog, I will take that concept and turn it into a dog story. And you will love it.

When we first adopted Buddy two years ago, we took him to Family Dog 101 at the Humane Society so we could teach him to be a somewhat well-behaved dog, as opposed to the high-pitched barking maniac who nearly killed us every time we took him on a walk. Each class was more painful and stressful than the last, but we persevered, and Buddy eventually graduated from Family Dog 101. The trainers gently suggested we might want to continue with Family Dog 102, but we were like, thanks, we'll hold.

While Buddy still likes to jump on visitors (even after some intense knee-to-the-chest kicking I tried after reading "Marley & Me"), he is pretty good at sitting, staying and laying down. Basically, he knows enough commands so we can keep him in check, and enough tricks so he can impress family members and other visiting dignitaries. So, what were we thinking when we suddenly decided that yes, he must definitely learn how to shake? In hindsight, we really should have left good enough alone, but now we're obsessed. He must learn how to shake. If petulant Peaches could do it, so can Buddy.

It's been two years since Buddy went through any sort of consistent training regimen, and it shows. We get out the treats and follow the same method we learned during Family Dog 101, but the poor boy is so confused. We say SHAKE, grab his paw and shake it, say GOOD BOY and then reward him with a treat. We are clear and consistent. Him? Not so much. Buddy sees the treat and goes through his entire repertoire. He sits. He lays. He stays. He puts his paws on us. He practically rolls over. But he won't put up the paw. His reaction is, "Hey, if you want to pick up my paw and shake it, I'm cool with that as long as there's a treat in it for me."

Last night I took some pictures during the post-dinner training regimen. This is what Buddy should be doing:

(Please note that Buddy's paw lift was not voluntary. He simply did Chip the honor of letting him lift his paw and give him a treat. Buddy is too kind.) This is what is actually happening:

In dog speak, SHAKE must mean "let me get up in your business and drool all over your jeans." But we love him. And as previously stated, we are obsessed. So the punishment of the parents and the confusion of the Lab continues. Heaven help us if we have real children some day.

1 comment:

  1. Catching up on your posts this morning. Murphy celebrated his 3rd birthday this week! I made his favorite doggie cake and frosted it in peanut butter. Heaven. BTW, his repertoire of tricks is this:
    You say sit, he lays.
    You say speak, he lays.
    You say shake, he lays.
    You say lay, he lays.


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