Tag Archives: puppy training

Chloë Works on Fetch

I still fondly remember the day Mike and Heather took me home from the breeder. To pick out one girl from among the four in the litter,  they put my sisters and me through a little competition, kind of like a puppy Olympics. One of the events was chasing a tennis ball. While the others went nowhere, I chased, I scored, and I’ve been chasing after Mike’s balls ever since.

Bringing them back is another matter entirely, however. Mike never thought he’d see the day that I mastered the other part of this game.

And yet,  check out this recent session in the park. I apologize for the wind noise in the background; it’s hard to find studio-quality audio techs out here in Magnolia. And note how Heather makes me toe the line and bring the ball back all the way to her feet. She may think she’s mellowed, but to me she’s still “Ms. Grimm.”

 

Even doubter Mike has to admit that I’m making progress, mostly due to the diligence of my aforementioned trainer Heather. Yet after a long session of chasing the purple-and-white ball in the park, once I get back home I still have enough energy for another 15 or 20 minutes of chasing after Wiffie, my white plastic baseball. Sometimes I roll Wiffie back to Mike so he can can toss it into the kitchen again, but other times I like to keep knocking Wiffie around all by myself, so Mike understands that he’s not completely essential to the game. When I get Wiffie rolling, smacking into cabinets, walls and tables, he makes quite a racket, like air hockey or foosball.

 

Recently Mike has started keeping score in the Wiffie game. It’s like golf, where you play against par: Every time I move one of the area rugs, I get a point. Three rugs in a round is a good showing, and my current record is seven (Mike counts a point every time I move a rug significantly, so I’ve gotten three points on the big rug in the kitchen alone, and without spilling my water bowl no less).

But I’ll have to admit I’m not perfect with this fetch game yet. Sometimes Heather or Mike can throw that purple-and-white ball a dozen times and I’ll bring it back all 12. Other times, I don’t even retrieve Throw 1. Why not? Well, there are still 8 million distractions in the naked city—and I want a whiff of all of them. After all, you’re only young once.

Chloë Finally Befriends Two Kids

Chloë kisses Frank and Stan’s mom.

I’m behaving a lot better around other dogs now, and getting a lot better about scoping out a situation and behaving accordingly. I wouldn’t say I’ve grown up completely, but hey, I’ve come a long way, baby. And with people? Once I got over my early fear of joggers and bicyclists, I haven’t met a person I haven’t liked.  As you can see from the accompanying photo, I am free with my kisses.

Kids, however; well, kids have been another story. Not sure why, but they seem to  make me nervous, even frightened. If I see one coming, I normally like to take a wide berth. Or worse, bark at them while wagging my tail and backing up.

Halle lures Chloë with treats.

But Halle, who lives around the block from us, has been persistent. She really loves dogs, and her mom told Mike she wants to be a vet when she grows up. For now, she’s starting out by working hard to make me be her friend. When she comes to the park in the morning with her mom and their dog Dana (a lab who is more interested in her ball than in me), she always runs up to see me, and Mike slips her some Charlie Bears to lure me to her. At first I was too timid to take the bait, but then I began swiping it quickly and slinking back behind Mike.

Chloë and Halle look adoringly at each other.

But Halle wouldn’t give up, and her mom says she talks about me all the time at home. So recently I finally started to warm up to her, at least a little bit. Last week I let her walk me on a leash a few feet, and last Saturday when she brought her sister Riley around while we were in the park pulling weeds, I let both of them get close to me and give me a hug. A close-up one, you know, head to head . And this week I was out in the front of the house in my exercise pen when I saw them walking up the street toward me, so I started to bark excitedly. I was actually glad to see them, and when they came over and petted me, I shut right up and wagged my tail! Not even the UPS guy comes over and pets me like that (although he has other charms).

Chloë with Riley, Halle and Heather.

Mike tells me that the girls are heading back east to spend most of the summer with their grandma and family in someplace called Quebec, where all they’ll swim all day and eat something called poutine. Based on what I’ve heard about this Canadian delicacy, I am decidedly jealous. They better bring me some, or I may pretend not to remember them when they return.

Chloë with Halle and Mike.

Chloë Continues Her Formal Education

As cute as I am, I know I won’t always be able to get by on my looks alone. Even a matinee idol like me can stand to learn a thing or two. So when Heather decided that I needed more formal schooling at the Ahimsa academy, who was I to disagree? After all, I had a blast in those Puppy Kindergarten classes that I took there last spring.

Ahimsa Instructor Rachel chides Heather for not clicking fast enough.

Puppy Junior High was not nearly as much fun. In Puppy Kindergarten, even the biggest breeds weren’t much bigger than I was. It was easy to hold my own. Now, all the other dogs had grown more than I have, and every one was much taller and heavier than me. When playtime came, I mostly hung back and watched. Sniffing around on the floor for treats uncollected from  previous exercises was a lot safer than scuffling with the big boys, if you ask me. I’ll wait until I get them outside, where my speed can be more of a factor, thank you very much.

Heather and Chloë display her diploma.

So the yuks were fewer and the homework was more demanding (for Heather and Mike, anyway) in Puppy Junior High, but after six weeks I’d have to say it was worth the time. I can pretty much take a walk like a normal dog now, and I usually come when I’m called–as long as I really want to, that is. Sometimes I hold out for a “treat party.” That’s when Mike or Heather screams out that phrase in a high-pitched voice,  throwing a handful of treats on the ground below them. Even if I’m dashing after a squirrel (which I probably wouldn’t catch, anyway), that surefire treat party is too good a lure to ignore. So did I learn anything in class? Yes, I did.

Chloë and Sunny

In fact, I passed my figure-8 walking test three weeks ago, so I got to skip right over it at the final exam. That gave me more time to practice “down/stay” on my rug. I hardly needed it; I only had to last a minute, and that’s just a joke. I’m so far beyond that. In another test, I had to respond to seven commands in 30 seconds. Seven? I did 18 without breaking a sweat. In fact, to cap off my exam, I did an optional trick,  executing a perfect “roll over” while everyone in the class was watching. For that, instructor Rachel conveyed upon me “graduation with honors” and gave me a prize: a toy (pictured at right, whom I have named Sunny) plus a 10 percent off discount coupon for my next class at Ahimsa. Here’s my official diploma:

Chloë’s Puppy Junior High Diploma

So will my formal education continue? Methinks Heather is getting that lean and hungry look. I know she’s dreaming about agility training, or at least Earthdog (kinda like a fox hunt without the foxes). Mike? Not so much, I’d say. But since everybody knows Mike doesn’t like ever like to turn away a discount, he may yet come around to Heather’s point of view. (As he usually does anyway, come to think of it.)