Friday, January 4, 2013

How to Train a Man to Train a Dog (Among Other Things)

            “Raaar, rraaaRr, woof, arf, arf, RAARRF!”
“Good Lord!  What the...”  I jerk the earbuds out of my ears interrupting a rollicking Bob Marley song. 
            It’s 9:00 A.M. and I’m huffing and puffing and sweating my way through a workout on my elliptical and jamming to my favorite tunes when, through my supposedly sound-deadening (and expensive) earbuds, I’m yanked back to reality by the shrill sounds of our eleven-year-old Cattle Dog, Sydney, scrabbling down the hallway, through the workout room and screeching to a halt by the door to the garage with our other dog, a two-year-old Chihuahua named Pippin, hot on her heels and just as earsplitting.
My husband ambles down the hall after them and strolls to the door to let them out.  He’s muttering, “Be quiet you two.  Pippin shut up.  Quiet Sydney.”
I can scarcely hear his voice above the din of the dogs and (as usual) our sweet, spoiled pooches are paying no attention whatsoever to their dad. 
“Quiet!” I bellow.
Immediate silence.  For a minute.
Three pairs of eyes, two brown, one blue, focus on my sweaty face. 
“Why is it so hard for you to control these dogs?” I ask for the billionth time while glaring into the blue eyes belonging to my husband.  “Is it really that hard?”
This is, of course, a rhetorical question, which he doesn’t even attempt to answer while opening the door and releasing them, screeching again, into the garage.  He glares at me and closes the door, which really doesn’t help much.  It sounds like Baskerville Hounds are slavering on the other side.   
“Why are they so obnoxious for you and so not for me?”
“Well...” he begins squaring his shoulders in preparation for the lecture he knows is forthcoming.  After all, it’s not like he hasn’t heard it before.
I interrupt in my best “teacher voice”, “All you have to do is make them sit and be quiet before you let them out.  I’ve told you that at least...”
“A million times,” he finishes for me as he opens the door and steps into the lair of the hellhounds.  The noise volume rises painfully and then mutes a bit again as he slams the door behind him. 
“Well,” I sniff, a little peeved now.  Climbing off the elliptical, I must set him straight.  Really, I do know better.  He won’t listen and we’ll end up in a fight.  But, I can’t stop myself.  After all, I’ve watched Victoria Stillwell enough times to be the resident dog training expert and I just want to help. 
After eighteen years, you’d think I would’ve learned, but I think maybe if I tell him just one more time...
“You know,” I begin, stepping through the door and raising my voice to be heard over the doggy din, “if you’d keep the door closed until they’re quiet and then tell them they’re good before you open it, they’d learn that if they bark, you won’t let them out.”
 “The door is closed,” he replies.
“What?”
“It’s closed.”
I’ve lost all semblance of patience by now, so I holler louder, “Don’t be so obtuse, I know it is now, I mean before you let them out.” 
“Why don’t you just tell me how to live?” He shouts back.
“What do you mean by that, why can’t you ever just listen?”
“Because you think I don’t do anything right.”
“I’m just trying to help.”
“SHUT UP!”  We yell in unison at the dogs.  They fall silent and look at us, shiny gold haloes hovering above their pointed ears.
“Pippin started it,” he says, placing himself on the level of a five-year-old.
“Nuh-uhn, Sydney always starts it, and she’s getting worse.”  I’m now four years old complete with hands-on-hips.  I might as well stick my tongue out too.
“Well, your dog taught Sydney.”
“What?”
“Tango taught Sydney to bark...”
“Tango’s been gone for nine years.  What’s she got to do with anything?” I sputter.
Sydney learned it from her...”
“All Cattle Dogs bark.” 
“Well, she’s quiet now.”
“What?"
Indeed she was.  In fact both dogs were now lying quietly on the floor, watching us and waiting for us to be quiet so they could go outside.
“See,” he grins, “I know how to train a dog.”
 “You’re such a boob,” I try to remain stern, but can’t help smiling too.
“Good dogs.” 
Wagging their innocent tails, they run to the outside door.    

Thursday, January 3, 2013

New blog subject

Hi All,

Happy New Year!

I know, I know, it's been awhile...again!  I've been working at my paying job a lot (too much) and trying to fit in writing time and have (again) been remiss in keeping up with my blog.  Please don't give up on me.

I'm still working on my two novels, "Visions of Mortality" and "Eight Degrees" as well as working at the hospital and taking an online class, "Writing for Children".  Am I stretching myself too thin?  NAH!  I just need to prioritize, which I'm actually pretty good at...with the exception of this blog!  With your patience and my persistence, I can do it.     

The other day I was explaining to my husband that training a dog (as with most other things in life) is a matter of patience and persistence.  This occurred while our 11 year old Australian Cattle dog was raising an earsplitting ruckus, barking and tearing down the hallway in an attempt to go somewhere...anywhere, and hubby was letting her (for the millionth time) get away with being an out-of-control cattle dog.  If any of you have ever had one, you know of what I speak.  They're one of the best, most loyal, smartest pooches ever bred, but by golly, they can be a handful!  Anyway, I said to him, "You know it would be nice if someone could come up with a way to train a man to train a dog," and voila!, my new blog topic was born!

So tomorrow will be my first installment of "How to Train a Man to Train a Dog."  I hope you will read and enjoy.  If you do, please tell your friends.

Thank you for sticking with me.
Enjoy reading!  :~)
C.Y.B.