"Not My Dog": Tales from Puppy Raising

Monday, July 03, 2006

The dirty little secret of puppy raising...

Hi, my name is Angie ... and I'm a competitive dog mom.
There, I said it. It's out there.
Getting Murphy's jacket is a big deal. It's a vest that says GEB puppy in training, and the dog wears it when working. He has to be at a certain training level (lest he embarrass the program publicly) to get it, and we were really hoping to get it at eval on Thursday. It's a recognition of the work he's done, but practically, it's also a great way to keep well-meaning bystanders at bay when you don't want them to be distractions.
I knew from about the first five minutes that Murphy was not getting his jacket, after he lunged at a friendly construction worker so enthusiastically that he nearly yanked Nina off her feet. Bessie, the GEB regional coordinator, remarked dourly that my shoulders have probably been getting a workout (they have) and the next thing Murphy knew, he was in a Gentle Leader. It's a contraption that looks worse than it is, though he hates it. It loops over the snout and around behind the ears; if the dog tries to pull, it puts pressure on the snout and makes it seem like not such a good idea. Basically, it's a tool to help this 70-pound puppy curb his enthusiasm and learn to listen. After a training work at USM yesterday, I'm a believer.
It's not a remedial thing, as at least two other pups got them on Thursday. And I actually was pretty ok with it. Sure, I would have liked Murphy's work to go better that day. I do think -- and so does Nina -- that he is a better dog than Bessie seems to think he is. (She has flatly rejected the idea that he's stud potential.) But I'm at the point where I'm realizing that it's a journey, that we work with him where he is, and deal with the issues as they are. To paraphrase Donald Rumsfeld, you go to work with the dog you have, not the dog you wish he were or will be someday.
My zen lasted until I heard that Murphy's brother got his jacket.
Now, let me just say that M. is a perfectly fine dog. He is not, however, nearly as good-looking as Murphy, who is larger, has a lovely wavy coat, and is better proportioned. M. is also, I believe, not any better behaved than Murphy; certainly not when you're not dangling food in front of him at every moment, as his raiser does. (I'm not fond of his raiser, can you tell? Oh, I'm on a petty roll.)
So there it is. I'm a competitive doggy mommy who is determined to prove on Saturday's training class that my pride and joy has been robbed!
Look out for me when Andrew goes to kindergarten.


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