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Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Toby Goes to Kindergarten (for dogs)

Toby attracted attention everywhere he went. 
 As he trotted into his first obedience class with his little curly tail in the air, we were greeted with,"Awww! He's so cute!"
 "How old is he?"
"What's his name?"
"What kind of dog is he?"
I quickly took a seat with Toby wiggling and squirming at my feet, trying to get close to the neighboring big dogs. The chairs were arranged in a wide circle around the perimeter of the spacious waiting area. His little black nose quivered as he absorbed all the odors of the vet office, new dogs, and different humans. As the youngest puppy in the class, Toby had a roomful of admirers.

       I was doing some admiring of my own. Several of the twelve other dogs in the room were great dogs in their own right. A friendly middle-aged couple had brought their gorgeous Golden Retriever, Glory. She was an energetic blonde with wavy fur and that irresistible Golden smile. It was easy to imagine Glory leaping to grab a Frisbee or racing across the beach to take a swim.

         Next to Glory was a beautifully groomed Collie with the long snout and thick tricolor fur typical of the breed. Her owner, a bookish-looking thirty-something gentleman, stroked her reassuringly. Lily was no Lassie in temperament. She trembled with fear of all the strange new surroundings, dogs, and people. Her biggest challenge during these eight weeks would be to conquer her fears. Luckily, Lily had a gentle owner with lots of patience.

        Two tiny dogs were part of our group.  Bonnie was a poofy white Maltese. She was yipping and playing tug-o-war with her owner over who ruled the leash. Bonnie's "mommy" was what is euphemistically called "a woman of a certain age", with blonde shoulder-length hair and fresh-looking makeup. She favored low-cut girlish tops with shorts and wedge sandals . On her petite figure the feminine outfits looked attractive. She and her fluffy dog seemed like a perfect match.

      The other little dog was a nervous brown miniature Pinscher. (I later offended the owner by calling it a Chihauhau. Hey, he looked like one to me!) Mikey suffered from acute anxiety. He lay curled on his blanket with his bugged-out eyes patrolling for the dangers he seemed to imagine were looming. Mikey's owner, a very nice retired military officer, were in the class to practice for an obedience sport called "rally", whatever that was.

      Next to me was a wiry black-and-brown dog who looked like a cross between Doberman and a Greyhound, but about half the size of either breed. Believe me, Jax put the Energizer Bunny to shame. With his metabolism, I'll bet he ate more than a Tibetan mastiff. If ever a dog had ADHD, it was Jax. His owner, not surprisingly, looked hot and exasperated as she hauled on the leash to keep him within a two foot radius of her chair. Jax would have been obnoxious if he hadn't been so eager to please her. He would look adoringly into her face trying so hard to be good...but then he just had to bust some moves!

      Last of the memorable canine personalities was a large long-haired mutt called Ralph. Ralph had big brown eyes, a massive skull, and attitude. A DNA test might have shown him to be part Rottweiler together with who-knows-what other big furry breeds. Ralph had some aggression issues and clearly thought he had brought the nice people who lived with him to class instead of the other way around.

     Now, I'd say Mr. Dean had his hands full. Wouldn't you?

Note: I am using Mr. Dean's true name and business name (The Dean's List) by permission. See "Resources" if you'd like to visit his website. The names of Toby's classmates have been changed.

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