Nanny dog, who passed away on May 3, 2005, was so much my treasure. But, I will admit I had no clue what to do when I scooped her up and brought her home to our tiny five-story walk-up apartment in our not-so-great neighborhood in Manhattan.
Her training took place on our rooftop with no distractions. Everyday, I would cradle Nanny dog-pup and bring her to the roof for our mutual training sessions. You see, all I had ever experienced in my life as a dog trainer was watching my Mom train our Afghan puppy, Jasmine, at the neighborhood high school. (Afghans are in the bottom five of the list of easily trainable dogs.) I must admit -- not very successful. But no one knew the rules. Mom did not have a crate. And early in Jasmine’s life the entire household was gone all day.
Back to Nanny. I would take my Monks of New Skete training manual up the steep staircase with Nanny dog and attempt to train her to sit, stay, heal, come, wait, etc. The chapter on consistency must have been whited out because once Nanny showed me she could do these “tricks,” I thought we were done!
And then, 14 ½ years later Dixie - the collie mutt - pounced into my Nanny empty saddened life and off we went to doggy school.
Well!!! I was as wet behind the ears as a baby otter. I was determined to have the perfectly trained puppy. Not only would I practice with Dixie everyday, read the manual over and over again, I also had a friend (who was training to be a trainer) working with us everyday. Talk about overachievers. To say the least, these efforts truly paid off. We were the toast of the town or shall we say the biscuit in the bag. I would say “Dixie come!” and she would come running at me like I was home plate and the score was tied, bottom of the ninth inning. I would say “Dixie heal!” and she would look lovingly into my eyes and prance by my side until I stopped and her butt would hit the floor like a door stop! That is until graduation day -- or was that the first day of adolescence?!?!
My perfectly adoring puppy went into punk rock stage. I would call out “Dixie come!” and she would look at me and reply “In a minute, Mom!” Or, I would say “Dixie stay!” and she would reply “You take too long!”
Bewildered, discouraged, and totally befuddled, I looked at our trainer and said HUH? She smirked, shrugged her shoulders, and announced ADOLESCENCE.
While I had heard rumors that adolescence was a wrap at about a year and a half, later reports came in reflecting three to four years.
Three to four years!!! I won’t survive three to four years. What to do? With my ears back and my tail between my legs, I approached a dear friend and trainer. Before I knew it, I was in class with Dixie (not for her, mind you, but for me) on how to be (for lack of a politically correct term) the leader dog. Much to my surprise, just like I craved leadership as a teenager, so did my adolescent pup Dixie.
After only two concentrated role-model training sessions, Dixie and I became best momster and dogster again. Go figure. All she really wanted was to be reassured who was in charge. And silly me thought that cuddling was love.Maybe tough love is more of the true love that is universally most effective. The other lessons I learned..... consistency, training is cause and effect, and enlightenment does not happen in one day. So while Dixie is an adolescent, I am a work in progress!