Lindsay and I took Salish to his third puppy training class last night. We spend the first 10 minutes or so walking laps around Petco. We work on ignoring the giant bags of dog treats and the endless rows of squeaky dog toys. It’s our way of teaching Salish that engaging in consumerism doesn’t bring happiness. Merry Christmas!
Next we work on our “sit” and “stay” commands. Salish is part Australian Cattle Dog, so when properly motivated, his focus is absolute. In my decidedly biased opinion he is the most intelligent dog in his class… of two. The instructor then decided to teach Salish a new trick called “touch.” This is where I hold my hand out up in the air and he leaps to touch it with his nose. Think of an orca at SeaWorld (and then try not to cry).
When the instructor teaches Salish a new trick, she stuffs his little face full of treats when he gets it right. This would be fine, except the tiny brown chicken flavored cubes of motivation turn Salish into a walking chemical weapon. There’s no other way to say it – his toots are legendary. They foul the air for minutes at a time and stir me from a deep and dreamless sleep. They leave an aftertaste in your mouth.
After class, we let Salish play with a classmate named Buddy. Buddy is a fluffy, overly eager poodle mutt mix of some sort. He is very excitable and I suspect the Pentagon is using him to develop a way to shatter the human eardrum with a single bark. Salish merely tolerates Buddy until it’s time to leave.
During our third class, I had a rare moment of clarity. I’m now convinced that puppy training class isn’t really about training the dogs. It’s about training the owners. I would venture a guess that the instructor barks more commands at me than at Salish. “David, use your leg to get between your dog and the toy,” “David, don’t be afraid to raise your voice,” “David, only give the command once. Do not repeat,” “David, those treats are not for you.” Whatever. I paid good money for this class. I’ll eat the treats if I want to.
I hope they give me a certificate of achievement at the end: “Most Improved Owner.”