Thursday, November 5, 2009

Obedience Class

Mom has made each of us dogs go to obedience class.  Some of us liked it better than others and turned out to be more obedient.  Personally, I hated obedience class, and I hope I never have to go there again!

Gabe was the first one to have to go through the Obedience Ordeal, because Mom thought he needed obedience training more than Trixie did.  After all, Trixie had been a show dog, so she had at least been trained to run around a show ring.  And Trixie was almost always well-behaved anyway.

So Mom enrolled Gabe in class, and the first night they went there, the teacher, Aunt Mary, said, "Oh, a basenji!  The first dog that ever bit me was a basenji!" Mom thought this might be a Bad Omen, but it turned out that Aunt Mary fell in love with Gabe, and decided she had to have a basenji of her very own!

In Gabe's class, there were only four dogs, but all of them were boy dogs.  Gabe spent most of his time in class trying to snark at the other dogs instead of learning his lessons.  All the other dogs already knew "sit," but Gabe didn't.  Mom couldn't get Gabe to sit, and Aunt Mary suggested that Mom force Gabe to sit, but when Mom tried that, Gabe tried to bite her.  So Mom decided that Gabe should be taught using only positive methods.

They worked on "sit" a lot at home where Gabe was not so stressed, and finally he learned to do it, but he didn't learn "down" until the very last class, and he never learned "stay" at all.  Mom tried to get Gabe to do "heel," but mostly Gabe wanted to hurry and catch up with the dog ahead of him, so he could start a fight.  At the end of the class, Gabe got a graduation certificate, but Mom did not feel he deserved to get it, so she did not have it framed or anything.

After that, Mom took Trixie to obedience classes, but Trixie's class had twelve dogs in it, and some of those dogs were rambunctious, young dogs with no manners, and Trixie was afraid of them.  Trixie already knew "sit" before she started class, but it was hard to teach her anything else because she was too nervous to take any treats during class.  So after about three classes, Trixie became an obedience school dropout.  Aunt Mary (who was also Trixie's teacher), gave Mom and Trixie some private lessons to make up for the classes they didn't go to.

Next it was Mel's turn to do obedience, and Mel actually liked going to class, and he learned everything he was supposed to!  Mom was very happy about this because she had thought she was the most horrible dog trainer ever, but after she trained Mel, she decided maybe she was not so horrible after all.  Instead, she thought maybe it was true what some people say about basenjis being hard to train.

When Barry came to live here as a foster dog, he already knew basic obedience stuff like "sit" and "stay."  This was because his other foster parents took him to a class.  So Mom enrolled Barry in Intermediate Obedience.  In this class, they learned stuff like "long sit-stay" and "long down-stay" and a recall from all the way across the room.  Mom and Barry used to go down in the basement and practice their obedience skills.  Mom thought that Barry was the easiest dog of all to train.  Maybe this is because he is part German Shepherd, and German Shepherds can be trained to do all sorts of things.  Anyway, Mom felt like a good trainer, and Barry felt like a smart dog, and then Mom adopted Barry, and everybody was very happy.

But then after a while, I joined the family, and Mom decided to take me to obedience class.  My class was pretty small, and guess who was in it!  Aunt Mary!  But she wasn't the teacher.  She was just taking the class like a regular person, with her new brindle basenji girl!  I would tell you this girl's name, but I never can remember it because it's a strange name, like maybe African or something.  I really wanted to play with the other basenji girl, but you are not supposed to play during class.  You are supposed to pay attention to your mom and follow all the commands.  Frankly, I can't see the point of doing this, so that's probably why I am so bad at obedience!

But I am happy to say that I did learn "sit" and "down," and I could sort of do "stay."  But what I really hated was "heel."  When you do "heel," you have to walk around and around and around in a very boring room, and you have to stay right beside your mom, and not stop to sniff anything.  Then whenever she stops -- which she does often, and for no good reason at all -- you are supposed to sit.  But I never could remember to sit.  And also I didn't like walking around and around in circles.  So whenever we came near the door, I just tried to go over to the door so we could leave.  And when Mom tried to make me go on around the circle, I planted my feet like a donkey, and I wouldn't go any further.  Sometimes Mom couldn't even tempt me with a yummy treat to keep going.  That's how strongly I felt about wanting to get out of that dumb class!

There are some dogs who are so good at doing obedience that they can go to shows and compete with other dogs.  And then if they follow all the commands, they get to add a bunch of letters after their names to show how smart they are, which makes everyone else be very impressed.  Some of the dogs who do this obedience competition stuff are basenjis, if you can believe it.  I have to admit that I think they are crazy, but I guess they like it or else they wouldn't do it.

Here's a picture of a German Shepherd doing "heel" with his (or her) mom, off-leash.  You can see by looking at this photo that the dog totally adores his mom and is just waiting for her to give the next command.  If the mom said "Go jump off a cliff," I think this dog would do it, with no questions asked!  This is the kind of total and complete devotion that a dog has to have in order to be a Good Obedience Dog.  But a dog like me is mostly more independent in my thinking, so even though I love my mom, I would not jump off a cliff for her!

Well, that's all I am going to say about obedience training.  My point, in case you didn't get it, is that I think it is a big, dumb waste of time.  But I hope I have not offended any of my doggy friends who like to do obedience.  Everyone is entitled to his or her opinion, no matter how wrong it might be!

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