Saturday, April 15, 2017

The joy of owning a collie

i wrote this a while back, back when Lad was still a puppy...i thought it was appropriate to share it on his birthday... Last night was my first experience attending puppy kindergarten with our collie puppy.  His name is Lad and he is a sixteen week old bundle of energy.  He is very intelligent and very beautiful.  He was given to my daughter and I by my sister who breeds collies.  Her collies are show dogs, bred for their beauty, intelligence and spirit.

Lad is an unusual puppy in that he loves to watch TV.  Not just any television program will do for this puppy, he is discriminating in his choice of television programs.  He only enjoys Animal Planet's television show "Animal Cops".  When that show is on he stares at the screen, his little head tilting right and left trying to decipher what is happening to the dogs on the show.  He doesn't pay any attention when the show covers other animals, only dogs will do for this puppy.  On one episode last week a puppy was in distress and crying.  Lad ran up to the screen and placed both paws on the entertainment center and began barking furiously.  I think he believed he was looking out a window at this poor puppy who he believed was being harmed.

Back to puppy kindergarten though, it was bad.  No, more correctly, Lad was bad.  My daughter said to me, “why else do you think his name rhymes with bad?"  All week we had worked with him on the first assignment for class.  We got him to look at us when we called his name.  We taught him to look deeply into our eyes when we gave him the command "look".  We taught him to stand when given the command "stand".  We were so proud of his accomplishments.  If he had something that didn't belong to him we taught him to immediately release the item when we gave him the command "drop it".  We were working on teaching him to enter his crate when told "Lad, in your crate".  We had almost met success in our attempt to teach him "come".  He was fully housebroken by fourteen weeks.

Yes, we were proud, never had there been such a smart puppy!  What is the saying,” Pride goeth before the fall"?  We brought him to class, greatly anticipating his demonstration of his newly learned skills.  We were confidant in our belief that he would outshine all the other puppies with his remarkable intelligence.  Lad chose instead to pretend that he didn't know us.

I am serious, when presented with a room full of adorable puppies he developed a strong case of amnesia.  He couldn't remember a single command.  All he did was bark his high pitched puppy bark at every puppy in the room.  This was his way of inviting them to come play with him.  No one could even hear the instructors as they gamely tried to give the lesson.  There was nothing I could do to silence him in his excitement of being around the other puppies.

I felt like an embarrassed mother whose toddler has just thrown himself on the floor in a temper tantrum of monumental proportion.  Everyone was looking at my formerly angelic puppy and laughing.  It didn't help that all the other puppies were sitting and quietly looking at their owners, perfectly behaved.  Doing just what they should have been doing, but not Lad.  I missed most of what the instructors said during the lesson last night.  It took all of my concentration to try and quiet my over-excited puppy.

Then it was time for puppy play-time.  This is the part of the class where all the puppies get to run free and play with each other.  I prayed that this would cure Lad of his earlier misbehavior.  I told myself that now he would be able to work off his eager, almost obsessive need to play with these other puppies.  That after playtime was over he would return to his normal self and actually act as if he knew me and the few commands he had been taught.

That isn't what happened.  Instead Lad picked out a particularly cute little golden retriever puppy as his
 "playmate".  He then proceeded to mount this male puppy during the entire playtime.  Wherever this puppy ran, Lad was right behind him, and I mean right behind him.  He gave the poor thing no relief from his excited and unwanted affections.  The instructors told us not to separate the puppies during their playtime.  That it was just normal puppy excitement and if one puppy had enough attention from another puppy he would let the puppy know it.

So instead I stood there, what could I do?  "Is your puppy a male too?" I was asked.  "Yes, he sure likes your puppy.” I replied, face as red as possible.  "What kind of dog is he" asked the owners of the perfectly behaved Golden retriever puppy.  "He is a smooth collie."

Once playtime was over we again formed a circle around them.  The instructors once again began to give the night's lesson.  Lad again began his noisy barking.  In a last effort to be heard the instructor turned to me, "can you please turn your puppy around so he faces you and try to get his attention?"  I immediately turned Lad around and positioned him so that his back was to all the other puppies.  This began a wrestling match between he and I.  Me holding him in a sitting position facing me, him trying to wiggle around so he could view the other puppies.  Every time he opened his mouth to bark I quickly gave him another cookie, desperate in my hope that with a full mouth he would have to be quiet.

Class soon ended, but to me it seemed the last ten minutes were the longest of my life!  I heard the parting instructions, "be sure to bring your puppies favorite toys next week, we are going to teach them to share!"  Oh, wonderful, I think to myself, that should be fun!

We get home and exhausted I collapse on the couch.  Still having the cookies used as bait for Lad, I called him over to me.  He, of course, came running just as we had worked on.  "Lad, stand!", he of course stood perfectly still. "Lad, Look!", Lad of course looked adoringly into my eyes.

Ah, the joys of owning a collie!

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