Rain pouring down.
Six grown men and women, and one little girl, are trotting around in circles in a town centre carpark. In the centre of this circle is a very loud, very energetic woman wearing full-on rain gear and wellies.
She is yelling at the top of her voice, in order to be heard above the rain and traffic noise.
“Come on you guys! Pick it up! Faster! Faster!” “Lots of encouragement now! I want to hear high squeaky voices!”
We all begin to canter along a bit faster. A chorus of high pitched, “Good girl!”, “Good boy!”, rings out as we clumsily try to negotiate a puddle-less circle for ourselves and our furry companions.
Welcome to Dog Training 101.
This is our third lesson, and the first in inclement weather.
Our trainer is nothing if not enthusiastic and positive. She refuses to allow any negativity enter our lessons. She treats us humans as if we were dogs, with constant, loud praise and rewards.
I was ridiculously thrilled to be awarded a grand total of SIX gold stars last week. My doggie and I were the A* pupils! I extracted great pleasure out of teasing a fellow dog parent when he ‘forgot’ to bring last weeks homework sheet, “You’ll never get your gold stars without your homework, slacker!” as I skip away after handing mine over. I was always an eager student.
Homework… Just when you think as an adult past college, you’ve left it behind, you find it’s not over.
The first week’s exercises began with me saying, in my most excited and expressive, voice a very loud “YES!”, fifteen times in row, three times a day as I rewarded my little pup with treats. The purpose of which was to teach her to associate a happy “YES” with a reward. However, with modern paper-thin walls, and my neighbours car in his driveway, I couldn’t help but wonder what on earth he imagined I was getting up to all day…
Back to dog school…
Having informed our trainer that I am very nervous around certain big breeds of dog, I am less than thrilled when my tiny Bichon Frise and I are paired with Troy, the exuberant Rottweiler, for a circuit of the carpark. My little pooch and I hang back, maintaining a safe distance from the beast ahead of us, i.e.: blatantly disobeying our teacher. Two cheats together.
We are not safe however…
She stops us to chat and, as Troy stands next to me, a screech of fear escapes uncontrollably from my lips as he leaps onto me. I feel his teeth and tongue around my free hand and brace myself for my worst nightmare.
A deathly silence falls over the group. The tension is palpable in the rain-soaked air. The yellow ribbon attached to my dog’s lead signifies to everyone that we are a duo not to be approached suddenly.
Just before Troy’s teeth can attach themselves any deeper into my hand, his Daddy, (as we are called in class, I know all the dog names, but the humans are anonymous here), pulls him away to a safe distance. The excited trainer whoops with joy and throws her arms around me… “See! We will cure you of being scared of dogs yet!” she laughs.
Yeah I’m laughing… On the inside.
Note: I’ll write more again if people like this taster… Let me know x