Friday, May 19, 2006

First day of school

If you apply the traditional multiple of seven, nine-month-old Cassie is now ready for kindergarten, so we went. There were ten or eleven other dogs in class, along with their humans. Big ones, little ones, pushy ones, shy ones. About half were puppies around Cassie’s age.

After the rains we have had, we were fortunate to have a relatively deluge-free evening. We doused ourselves with the insect repellent thoughtfully provided by the instructor and scoped out a portion of the ball field that was almost free of puddles.

We hung out between Odie, a black-tipped German Shepherd who at six months is bigger and heavier than Cassie, and Tad, a six-month old field Golden Retriever.

Oh, my! That Cassie is so smart! She excelled on looking at me when I call her name, and because she was clearly so good at “sit,” she was selected to demonstrate the first steps of learning “stay.” (The dachshund demonstrated "sit," not too effective as a demonstration given short legs and long grass.)

She is, however, willful, and we amused our classmates with the exercise of walking (dog on a long line) randomly in different directions. This is supposed to teach the dog to pay attention to where the human is going. We don’t have this down at all, not at all. But it was amusing for others to see what happened when I repeatedly went the opposite direction from a seventy-pound German Shepherd girl.

I thought I lavished attention on my dog, but ninety minutes of undivided attention had her enthralled. Did I really need to be reminded how much German Shepherds love to work? How much they crave a job to do? Apparently I did.

Cassie loved school. Younger puppies Tad and Odie collapsed for naps when they got home, but Cassie was calm and relaxed, then ready to try again the following day.

I’m trying to teach her the word “school,” as well as a word my old dogs understand and appreciate: “tomorrow.” In our little language, “tomorrow” means “tomorrow we will do something fun, okay?” It’s one of those words I taught my dogs by accident, kind of like “Max-don’t-lick-that-baby!” You wouldn’t think dogs would be able to anticipate pleasure “tomorrow,” but it seems to work for us.

1 comment:

Leslie Shelor said...

Intelligent dogs that live with their people understand a lot. Phone conversation with my cousin before a long trip:

Me: I feel bad Lily will be in the kennel 5 days.
Spaniel: Bark;grrr!
Me: Lily, you do NOT understand English!
But she does!