Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Obedience School

Those of you who have met our dog, Molly, know that she is not the most obedient of animals. However, her infectious happiness, exuberant love for all people, and heartbreaking cuteness prevent us from drowning her. We have sort of learned to deal with it. It no longer makes me scream when she gets into the garbage can and drags smelly things all over the floor, and I've learned my lesson about leaving toilet cleaning brushes where Molly can get them. But it wasn't always that way. When we first got Molly, I was determined to make a good, obedient puppy of her. So we enrolled her in obedience school.

The school met at on outdoor park on Saturday mornings. Phil, not being a morning person, came along only grudgingly, but to his credit, he did come most of the time. We would all gather in an open, large area and practice walking our dogs in endless circles, making them "sit" and "heel" etc. For an hour. In the beating summer sun. All that was fine. Here was the problem. The park had a pond filled with water fowl. Ducks, geese and all kinds of birds would swim and frolick in the pond, crapping and squawking and being birdy. Do you see the problem? An untrained 5 month old hunting dog cannot be expected to focus when surrounded by ducks, just begging to be chewed. Any time we went near the ducks Molly would lose her freaking mind, pulling as hard as she could to get to the birds. I would give her leash a sharp tug and say "No Molly" in my most authoritative voice. She would look up at me, her big puppy eyes filled with anxiety, as if to say "But they'll get away if we don't kill them immediately". Disgusted with my lack of hunting skills, she would eventually be persuaded to return to the obedience class circle, where she promptly proved herself to be the class retard.

The other dogs were all calm and collected. They stood patiently by their owners' sides, heeling and sitting and downing like show dogs. Molly had no interest in these kinds of activities. She strained and strained so she could sniff the other dogs. If a dog was to her liking she would prance and pounce all over the thing, barking joyously, wagging her tail with delight. "No Molly" I would belt in my most intimidating voice, giving her leash a jerk. At this point she would begin sniffing the ground, finding intriguing smells and rolling in them, wiggling on her back and grinding the scent into her fur. I would sigh. "No, Molly" and then I would physically pick her up and make her sit, which she would do, until something - anything - distracted her.

It's bad enough that our dog was the class dunce. But there was this other dog there - a German shepherd - that made everybody's dogs look like dunces. I hated that German shepherd. The German shepherd never, ever barked or pulled on the leash or left his owner's side. The German shepherd had no interest in bird murder. Not only could he perform all the basic commands flawlessly, he could do tricks and obstacle courses like some kind of furry robot. The owner just watched nochelantly, drawling out commands as his dog scrambled to obey him.

Here is my question: Why did he even bother to bring German shepherd to obedience school? Why? The dog was already obedient. I will tell you why. He was a show off. He just wanted to make us all feel bad, me in particular. He wanted to show everyone what a great dog owner he was, and how skilled he was at training dogs. He was just a big show off. As I watched the German shepherd, week after week, I became more and more angry with the situation. Because you know what? Yes, my dog is a retard. And no, I am not a good enough dog trainer to remedy the situation. But you know what else? German shepherds are ugly, and yours is especially ugly. The only reason he's obedient is because he knows you would have to take him out back and shoot him for being ugly if he disobeyed you. MY dog is cute. MY dog is adorable, and charming and funny. MY dog doesn't have to be as obedient as yours, because she's BETTER, overall. So go home Mr. Showoff, with your ugly dog, and enjoy bossing him around all day.

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