I had hoped that by now my loveable rogue of a hound would employ the genteel, calmness of labs you occasionally see diligently helping their handlers across the road. Or, at the very least, walk respectfully to heel (preferably in the same direction as me) like my late german shepherd. Not Bollo.
At 2½ he is still the excitable, effervescent ‘fun time Bollo’ he was at 2½ months, although now he’s 37 kilos of solid muscle to match. Coupled with unbounded enthusiasm, Bollo aims to turn every walk into the celebration of a lifetime.
I explained all this to the trainer over the phone beforehand. “So, what help do you feel you need?” she asked. Errr – walking nicely on a lead and not having my arm yanked out of its socket would be a start. I was politely informed that labs were an excitable breed and the year between 2 and 3 is the most challenging age. Great. The trainer said, “You’re managing the equivalent of a 16 year old adolescent boy.” Oh, that’s why whenever his lead appears he dances around the kitchen as if he’s gearing up for a night on the town.
She also said I should take a treat to class that he doesn’t normally have, recommending sausages. Well, although I don’t eat them myself, my guys only have ‘taste the difference’ sausages. ‘Posh sausages’ my daughter calls them. So, I cooked, chopped and bagged some posh sausages to help us on our way.
A road traffic accident en route delayed us and it was about 10 minutes past 7 by the time we arrived at the venue. Being late doesn’t usually bother me but as it was my first time, I did feel a little sheepish. Bollo, on the other hand, leapt around the car park like a pony and burst through the door almost lifting me off my feet as if to say, “Where’s the party?”
I stood smiling awkwardly feeling the heat creep up my neck as the room hushed. The trainer promptly spent the next 10 minutes explaining to the rest of the class that this was exactly how not to enter a room with your dog and everything I did wrong. Yes, me, Bollo is the pinnacle of manners, after all. During this conversation, himself became bored, flopped down and had a nap. That’s right, light the fire…
So, my cheeks were tomato red by the time the trainer strutted over for our assessment, whereby Bollo immediately awoke ~actually, I think he had half an eye half open the whole time~, jumped up and slurped a huge pink tongue across her cheek. As her face clouded, I began to realise why we gave up the last class.
She decided that we needed one to one training this week and, leaving her colleague to take the class of dog owners who were now smiling at me smugly as they stroked the heads of their perfectly behaved beasts, proceeded to teach me the right way to enter a room , hold the lead etc. Like I hadn’t done it all before. At the end of an hour she said, “You’ve made good progress this week.” I stared down at my hand as Bollo over zealously grabbed another chunk of sausage, convinced I’d lost at least 3 finger tips. “You can join the class next week.”
That was the moment. The moment when I should have said, “Damn, is it always on a Tuesday? Sorry, I can’t do Tuesdays,” OR “Oh, I’m on holiday next week,” OR “Shucks, I have a hospital appointment…”, but I said neither and signed up for a 6 week course. She actually smiled as she took my cheque.
As soon as we arrived home, Bollo retreated to his bed with a bulging belly and a look of sheer satisfaction on his face. I poured myself a huge glass of Rose and relayed the evening’s event to shrieks of laughter from my hubby and regular comments of, “He’s always good for me.” Not helpful. I glanced across at Bollo with his angelic sleepy paw swung over his face and sighed. “Anyway, I signed up for the course.” When his laughter eventually abated hubby simply said, “I’m sure it’ll be good for both of you.” Hmmm… Time will tell.