There are dogs all over my base. Obviously, military people have a lot of dogs. In general, we like dogs. Our kids like dogs. While our spouse is gone for deployments and lengthy TDYs, not only is our dog extra company with undying devotion and love, but they bark if someone comes to the door. I can't speak for everyone, but having that extra alarm system makes me sleep much easier at night.
Our dog will go wherever we go.
Sometimes, though, that creates quite a problem.
If you will be renting, having a dog can often stick you right in the wallet. We've had to both pay more rent and pay a several hundred dollar "pet deposit" for having a dog. And I really don't blame the landlords - they don't know us from Adam. Our Ike is exceedingly well mannered and trained, but how would they know that?
I have been working with Ike for about two years. He sits, stays, lies down, fetches, and "gives paw" with whichever paw you request him to hold out. He's been totally housebroken since two nights after we brought him home, and he has never once chewed our furniture. I'm lucky enough to have friends that are dog trainers, and who have been available to help Ike along the way via emails and phone calls. I know that Ike is a good dog to rent to, but with a move rapidly coming upon us, I need a way to prove this to prospective landlords.
Enter dog training class.
And not just any dog training class, either! I can't just sign Ike up for Joe Schmoe's House of Pooch class. It's got to be name brand, something recognizable. People in the Jersey area might recognize Joe Schmoe's brand, but chances are that no one in Alaska, or Hawaii, or Florida will.
Actually, since most elderly Floridians are Jersey transplants, that might be a bad example. But I think I've made my point.
So I grumble and grumble, but I paid the 120$ to sign Ike up for an 8 week class that has a "diploma" at the end of it. I told the instructor, when signing up, that Ike already knew all their basic commands and asked if he could "skip a grade." The look she gave me made me want to offer to take a polygraph on the subject of Ike's training, but her carefully chosen words left no doubt that there was NO testing out of her program. It's start at the beginning and finish to the end. Period. End of Story.
So, today I show up. Ike is NOT on his best behavior and I'm totally embarrassed. I find myself using our signal for "You're being an idiot! Knock it off!" which is basically me affecting a baritone and telling him "uh-uh-uh!"
Then the other dogs show up. Suddenly, Ike seems like Lassie in a Staff Terrier's body. I'm in the corner with my dog, occasionally reinforcing his "sit" and/or "stay" and he's doing well indeed! Although there is mighty barking going on, Ike is keeping out of it. I'm wearing my best "I'm listening and we're being good" smile, hoping the instructor will see that we obviously do not need to come to another seven classes on dog behavior.
And just to add icing, it seems that my rather, errrr, overwhelming personality and Ike's obvious ability to run circles around the class doesn't make the instructor feel the warm and fuzzies towards us. She's very nice, understand. VERY nice. Nicer than I would be in the same situation. But she really does feel a need to assert some kind of control over us and reinforce her "lead dog" of the pack. What happens is this - she decides I need to change Ike's command words. I refuse. She insists. I don't react well. She stops insisting.
At this point, I'm wondering if Ike is going to get his diploma. Which we need. Because WE NEED A HOUSE WHEN WE MOVE!
Now the instructor changes tactics. When Ike lunges at a maniacally barking dog, I use our code term for "You are in SO MUCH TROUBLE, Mister!" Which is a baritone sharp, "BEHAVE!" Ike immediately stops his lunge and sits down, giving me the "Ooops, I screwed up. Have I mentioned how much I love you?" look.
The instructor tells me, "You should NOT yell at your dog!"
Yell? I was a cheerleader. She has not heard a yell from me. They train us to yell from the stomach. This noise was slightly above what I use to converse with my children. Loud, yes, and authoritarian. But not a yell. I informed her of this.
"It was too loud," she said.
It was at this moment a realization hit me. I knew Ike did not need to be there. And she knew Ike did not need to be there. I think even Ike knew he did not need to be there. But we did need the paper. So I remembered one of hubby's big lessons from basic training.
Sometimes, it doesn't matter that you don't need to do something, you have to do it. So just shut up and get it done.
As an aside, I think quite a large number of military maxims have the phrase, "just shut up and get it done" in them.
Anyway, with 15 minutes left in class number one I suddenly relaxed and went with the flow. I vegged out. That last 15 minutes passed more quickly than the first 5, and without any confrontation.
So, next week I'll go back to Ike's class for that diploma, and this time I'll remember hubby's training secret. I'm hoping it will pass much more quickly, and I'm willing to bet you dollars to donuts that it will.