February 3rd, Will and I started obedience class for Toby and Frankie. This has been a long time coming, as we've had Toby since September 09 and have had plenty of time to observe and deplore his issues. Frankie came home with us December 30, 2009, and we're still figuring him out. He was a stray, so we're not sure what he knows. Furthermore, he was sick the entire first month we had him, and sickness tends to have a deleterious effect on bowel control. There were some unfortunate consequences for the kitchen floor. Sigh I've been watching him like a hawk, and I definitely don't trust him yet. I guess all this clean up has been good for me. Poop really icks me out. Maybe having dogs is supposed to desensitize me before we have kids. Gross.
The class was held at the Charleston Animal Society on Remount Rd, about five minutes away from our home. That's a good thing, too, because Frankie is afraid of riding in the car, and always raises a fuss. I drove, with Toby in the front seat, and Will and Frankie in the back. Will had both leashes and was coordinating the dogs like that old America's Funniest Home Videos clip where the couple has broken windshield wipers in a rainstorm. The woman ties twine to the blades, and through cracked windows, pulls the wipers back and forth manually. I never got why that clip won. It would have been funnier with two squirming, crying 50 lb mutts instead of windshield wipers.
With a mishap or two, we (Okay, I was the one having trouble. I had a leash with an excited, pulling mutt on the end of it, my purse, and two medical folders in my hands) made it through the door. There were probably eight other puppies. I was worried that Toby and Frankie would be much too large, but there was a sheepdog-type thing, and a year-old labrador mix that were about the same size. I had to laugh when the lab, named Will, was parked next to human Will and Toby. Canine Will was black, with a huge white blaze on his chest and face. The resemblance was uncanny. After the class, Will and I joked that canine Will had his looks and my personality. Whenever I looked at the dog, he was lying down, slobbering cordially. My kind of guy.
Two of the small puppies stood out to me as well: pretty little girls named Izzy and Reesie. Reesie was no doubt named for a peanut butter cup. If I were to guess, I'd say her ancestry was chocolate lab with maybe pit bull? She had a gorgeous, brindled orange-and-brown coat, and her tough-looking owner had decked her out in a pink and brown collar-the same paw-print pattern as Frankie's green and brown collar. I detected a softy.
Izzy was a proud little German Shepherd with a light tan coat and a delicately shaded black snout. Whenever she got a little slack on the leash, she dove to the end of the tether nose first and plopped on her belly with a surprised look. I hope I get the chance to scoop her up during the class, because she's going to be too heavy to carry pretty soon, and I'm dying to give her a good ear rub and chin tickle.
The class covered sit-stays, the "leave it!" command and how to let your dog meet another dog. Frankie sat like a champion, which amused me because at home, he's a slow, apathetic sitter. I guess he was showing off, or the super cheapy string cheese we used is his heart's greatest desire. Or something. At least he liked that. I don't blame him for being uninspired by the hot dogs we also cut up for treats. I wouldn't have touched those either. 88c a pack off-off-brand? Blech. At least my dog has good(ish) taste. We're going to have to practice "leave it" at home with a variety of tasty objects. Frankie has already eaten one of my shoes, and the dogs together shredded an old book with a cloth cover. Thank goodness it wasn't one I was attached to, but I was pretty mad that they made a point of taking it out of the basket on the bookcase. I guess the cloth cover had an interesting smell or flavor? Who knows? I turn to my default answer: Dogs are dumb.
Though my session with Frankie went swimmingly, Will had a war on his hands with Toby. Every time I looked across the room at them, Toby was straining at the end of his leash. He would not listen, he would not sit, he could have cared less about the treats, and every time Will forced eye contact, the expression in Toby's eyes was a hard, bright "[screw] you." I swear that beast slid out of his mongrel mama smoking a cigar. His entire attitude since we've had him has been "Oh yeah? What are you gonna do about it?" He's very strong-willed and high energy. The only thing we've found to calm him down has been schlepping two cans of tomatoes in his saddlebags. I guess that fulfills some psychological need deep in his little canine hindbrain. Too bad we can't take him to class loaded up and strapped in. Sigh. Dogs.
The class ended with a five minute play period off-leash. The puppies slithered across the tile floor quite endearingly. Toby went off by himself after a few cursory sniffs. What's wrong with him? Did he get a cat soul? Frankie went over and made friends with canine Will. I'm sure when they separate the dogs into play groups, Frankie and Will are going to be placed together. And why not? They're big enough to handle each other. A little more running around, and then the excitement got to Frankie and he dropped 4 huge nuggets on the floor. I was so embarrassed. Those tiny puppies made it through an hour, and my nearly 2 year old dog is the one to lose it. The trainers advised us to just not feed them at all next Wednesday so they're hungry for treats and we won't have a reprise. Poop. Why'd it have to be poop?