It’s a Two-Way Street

Remember those little chairs you were directed to sit in at parent teacher conferences?

Remember the heart palpitations as the  teacher described your child?

“WAH…WAH…WAH….this is what the kids are going to do…yada…yada…yada… and your child isn’t fitting in…blah…blah…blah… and not reaching potential….WAH…BLAH…YADA ….you need to practice…yada…blah…blah…demonstrate competency.

And you sit there thinking,”Well, clearly thechild is not ready for the task! Break it down. Celeberate what is going on. Master this part, then move on.”   Oh, I can feel the restless energy gathering even now; the  clenching and unclenching of jaw muscles, hand muscles.  “Resist the urge to frown, shout , run from room blurting obsenities. You have done this parenting gig before.  Calm…..You know your child. You know children,  and this piece of the education profession doesn’t know quite as much as she thinks she does.”  Breathe.

I hated that world, and all its worries and presumptions.  I thought that I had pruned that kind of socializing out of my life. Then came Puppy School.

A tag team of fifty-something women entered the warehouse-turned-canine school. The taller of the two frowned and intoned, “Obedience work is a two-way street. You listen to me, the instructor, and your dog listens to you. Now sit your dog.”  We practice.

“This is the down,” and the kommandante demonstrates with her canine partner-in-dogma. “Now down your dog.”  We all try with varying degrees of  success that  any rational dog owner would expect from puppies in their first group experience. “Now we are going to step away,” and drill sargeant doodle-head proceeeds to describe in excrutiating detail how to hold the leash, give the command, pivot in front of the down pup, and …blah…blah…blah. Of course, puppies break the down as she talks.  SHE WHO KNOWS SO MUCH goes to attend to a particularly large 10 week old shepherd,and  in stern tones alternately reprimands the owner and pup.  Meanwhile my little Luci is down, but certainly not out.  Her attention is off me and taking in the big cavernous space, ever alert to the pup to her left and the little teeny tiny mutt to her right WHO WILL NOT LOOK AT HER!  Luci, a bossy little 4 month old English Shepherd, is like “Gasp! Mom, Mom, he won’t look at me!  Hey, Hey!  You! Do you like it here?  Hey, hey! MOM! ”  To intercept the focus I quickly move to practice the down again. Suddenly I hear this disapproving “I didn’t tell you to down your dog” and realize she is talking to ME! So I quickly move back into the position of owner by pup.  “Now down your dogs.” 

 Thank goodness I remembered the Parents’ Guide to Good Behavior:

Rule #1. Always remember and never forget: At all times, in all places, with all people, comport yourself as a lady/gentleman. 

Rule #2. Pay your lesson fees/tuition in full and on time.

Rule # 3.  Smile.

Rule #4. If your insights are not invited and your collaboration not solicited,  refer to Rule #1.

Which I did.

Resist the urge to frown, shout , run from room blurting obsenities. You have done this parenting gig before.  Calm…..You know your pup. You know puppies,  and this piece of the dog training profession doesn’t know quite as much as she thinks she does.  Breathe.

And so I made it through the night.  Luci and I learned how to travel in the car for a HALF HOUR; learned that a flat collar will definitely NOT do in a class setting; learned that we do NOT want to compete in the two-way street of AKC Obedience Tests. 

Nope. The two-way street I want to travel is between me and my pup, and I want training that encourages us to listen to one another.  I’m a parent.  I know how to travel on.


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