Bettina, on the other hand, seemed to have completely different ideas about her goals for class. She is, apparently, a bit more of a skeptic than I am. Some things were not included in the equation when I made plans for the class and Bettina very quickly began practicing her “communications” with me just moments after we got through the door.
Bettina was quite excited to see what sort of adventure we were going to have as we approached the gym. We got through the door and she stopped dead at the top of the stairs. This was something she had never been confronted with before in her limited experience and she didn’t know that stairs came in different configurations. She stubbornly held her ground as I tried to coax her down. She fixed me with a hairy eyeball that clearly said I had betrayed her. Deeply. Other class members began to pile up in a line behind us that stretched out the door as I, to no avail, tried to reason with a two year old. I ended up hoisting her up as best I could and schlepped her down the stairs. An auspicious beginning.
No matter, I thought. A few stairs won’t stand between us and obedience glory. After all, I had been the one remiss in not preparing her for differing flights of stairs. I set her down at the bottom of the stairs and headed off to the opposite side of the gym to check us in. It was only a matter of seconds before I realized something was very wrong with that picture. I was heading for check in, but Bettina was not. The leash pulled me up short and I turned to see a small black greyhound, legs locked, leaning backwards against the tug of the leash with all her might. Good grief!
I spent some time pleading with her to come. Two embarrassments in the first 5 minutes. My dream of obedience gold was growing a little hazy. Eventually, she decided to trust me and tentatively took a step…and froze again. The gym floor was a surface she had also never encountered before and by the looks of it, she wasn’t finding it very much to her liking. Another baleful hairy eyeball for mumma.
With the prospect of standing in that spot for the rest of class, the instructor kindly rolled out a rubber matt for us to use. This was just wonderful with Bettina, but not so much for mumma. The matt was set up down the exact center of the gym. Everything we did, all our practice, was done in the center ring.
I called her back and asked for down a third time. Third time is a charm, right? Not so much. She began an inspection of the terrain in her immediate vicinity, checking to see if any extra treats had dropped to the ground. The instructor finally said that perhaps we should move on to someone else, and we did. As the next dog was dutifully doing his downs and sits every time he was requested to do so, Bettina sauntered back over to my side and dropped into a down position. Everyone was looking at the dog currently demonstrating his skill. No one was paying us any attention to see Bettina’s triumph. I swear I saw her smile contentedly to herself.
As we progressed through class, Bettina continued to behave like a model citizen when no one was looking. When people watched she dropped all pretense of civilization. Still, she did enjoy class, if only to see the other dogs, spend some quality time with mumma and stuff herself with cheese and hotdogs. On our very last day, we had a “final exam.” A miniature version of a rally obedience course had been set up, with each station requiring one of the skills we had learned in class.
I turned to her and asked for a down. She felt it might be more fun to say hello to the instructor. At the next station, “Sit”; she tried to jump into my treat apron pocket and get her own treats to save me the trouble and both of us the time of performing a sit. At the next station, “Wait”; she headed for the nearest dog to renew acquaintances. At “Leave It” she went immediately for the lower level treat concealed in a dog bowl and attempted to eat it. By the time we got to the end of the course, anyone watching us would have had to assume that this hound had not attended any of the classes and simply showed up for the exam. My nerves were shot. Bettina was thrilled with herself.
Still, we received our diploma of graduation from basic obedience. I suspect you get one just for attending class, like when they give every kid a ribbon or trophy for participating. It was a great experience and I think Bettina enjoyed herself immensely, but I definitely feel like it left me in a school daze…