Friday, April 2, 2010

School Days

Abby was wild as hell, hard to control and incorrigible. Even though Abby was fun to play with, and I admired her boundless energy, we could see that Abby’s behavior, if left unchecked, would lead to her having serious personality issues as an adult. We had seen it before with other dogs we owned. It was apparent we did not know how to train a dog, so we decided to take her to an obedience course. We didn’t want a dog trained to do cutesy things or a dog so disciplined and strict that it would strip the dog of its personality. We wanted a dog that would listen to simple commands like ‘sit’, ‘stay’, or ‘come here’. We also wanted Abby to learn how to walk with a leash. Our attempts to put a leash on her up to then were met with great resistance. Abby would buck around like a bull at a rodeo whenever we tried to put a leash on her.

Needing the help, we took Abby to a dog obedience school everyday for 2 weeks. The place, called Pupsi, is located around 15mi from us in a Raleigh suburb, Cary (some say Cary is an acronym for Containment Area for Relocated Yankees). My mom would drop off Abby in the mornings and later in the afternoon pick her up around 3pm. I don’t know the techniques the trainers used, and at the time I was not interested. All I cared about was the outcome: Would she behave, could I control her, or would she obey my simple commands?

I do know that the trainers worked Abby pretty hard (they were not mean to her, it just took a lot of time and energy.). My mom said that when Abby got in the car on the way back home that Abby would immediately curl up on the floor board and sleep all the way home. Even when Abby arrived home, she wanted to nap and wasn’t her old rambunctious self. The trainers told us that when Abby became tired that she would start to gaze up at the sky and ignore anyone around her. The trainers also said Abby was very smart. Maybe they were telling the truth, or maybe they were humoring us. (I’ll discuss more about Abby’s intelligence in a later entry.)

One other anecdote I remember hearing about Abby’s Pupsi trips was her ‘friend’ at the receptionist’s area. The trainers owned a german shepard type dog (~6mos, just a little older than Abby was at the time.) named Cujo. The owners said that Cujo didn’t like most dogs and was not very social. However, Abby was the exception. He loved Abby and would chase her all around the desk wanting to play with her. Ironically, Abby wanted nothing to do with him. Normally, Abby would have loved nothing more than to romp around with another dog and play, but for some reason she was scared of Cujo. Every morning, Cujo would be waiting for her and Abby would peek in the door to see if he was there, and he always was.

The training was effective. Abby learned the basic commands and we were able to walk with Abby on a leash with no problems. She also stopped jumping up on guests. She didn’t become a robot nor did it strip her of her soul, but the training did smooth out the rough edges. Abby would grow up to have a lot of personality.

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