June 23   Puppy class

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For the next few episodes we’ve moved the recording night of Galactic Suburbia because we have puppy classes on Wednesday nights.

I love that C is so organised and diligent about such things, because I am not. But he determined that we would do such things as attending puppy school, and we should, I just would not have gotten around to it. But the vet is a 2 minute walk from our house and the classes are 7pm on a Wednesday night so it didn’t seem that bad. We had to wait a few weeks for the next class, which started last night, so Sasha is the oldest puppy there, at 14 weeks. Most of the puppies are 9.5 weeks.

I have to admit to stressing out a little before going. Would I do alright? I hate being judged and made to do things in front of everyone else, and then being corrected etc. I have no idea how I did ballet for so long, given that. But then I realised, the worst thing is we fail the 4 week class. So what?

It turned out to be a hilariously fun time! There are 5 puppies in the class, none the same breed or cross. There’s a mix of people – two women came by themselves. Two more brought a child with them. And C and I went with Sashie. I always thought that mothers’ group sounded like a hideous thing – being forced to have to socialise with people simply for being at the same place at the same time. (I’ve had previous hideous experience – oh look, you’re all wives/girlfriends of guys who have a sport in common, here, sit together for two hours, you’ll get along. Yeah, I mostly don’t have things in common with random people I am thrust with.) BUT! Now I get the whole mother’s group thing – going through the same experience at about the same time is enough. It was such a relief to find 4 other people who knew exactly what it’s like to have a puppy, right now, today. We’re all wanting to be able to get out of the classes the same thing. And two of the owners had lost dogs at about the time we lost Benji. So, we’re in this together.

The dog trainer is a vet nurse. And I think she’s really great. She loves dogs. She has trained a lot of puppies. She makes it really clear what and why you are doing things. And how to get a puppy to do things because OMG they have a short … oooh look a butterfly! *pounce* So there’s Sasha. And then a border collie called Flo, Gizmo the chihuahua shihtzu cross, Ruby the Australia bulldog and Violet the cavoodle.

The best thing I have learned so far is (and its so obvious and you know it, yet mostly you don’t practice it) – better to give praise at the action you want than vague yelling at the behaviour you don’t. Already today, I’ve had several instances where getting the puppy to perform things like answer to his name, has positively gotten him to stop doing things like eating the laptop cable, when repeated yelling and growling and so on for 4 weeks has failed, or succeeded in making it all into a fun game.

The puppies are gorgeous. We learned how to answer to our name, how to sit, how to come, and to look into our eyes. Then the puppies were all asleep after the first 20 minutes. Gosh it’s exhausting being a puppy! Ours embarrassingly did not like one of the treats we were given for the rewards – he kept spitting it out! We did a controlled play time as well – certain dogs invited down to see how they’d interact. Four of the pups were not interested, and a little scared. Gizmo was the only one interested in playing, checking anyone out and in fact did not nap at all. I think he’s hilarious! All the other pups were terrified of Gizmo, though Flo was too polite to object to him sniffing her personals – but she did NOT enjoy it. I thought C was going to burst something he was laughing so hard. Ruby was kinda slightly annoyed at being made to be awake for the whole class, or she would have been annoyed if she could be slightly less mellow.

It was really a very funny evening. We were told that the puppies would probably be more into play time next week. I hope so! I didn’t think that Sasha was that shy. He’s a terror at home! As we were all going in for the class, people with late vet appointments were awwing over the cute little puppies. I think all of us sitting there were thinking, “yeah cute now, not so when waking you up at 4.30 am for a toilet break and then wanting playtime.”




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  • By Tansy Rayner Roberts on 24 June 2011 at 6:48 am

    It never occurred to me to bother with a mother’s group either – I wouldn’t have agreed to it if Isabel hadn’t told me ahead of time that it had been really good for her. She is completely NOT the sort of person I would have thought would enjoy doing as you said – sitting being polite with people she doesn’t know – so I took her advice to heart.

    And yes, it was hugely successful for me. I’m not friends with those women now – we had nothing in common and pretty much a switch went off when our babies turned one, and we all went our separate ways. But for that first 12 months, weekly, we were essential to each other.

    There are some experiences which are just so odd and alienating that people even a year later have forgotten what they are like. One of the thing that surprised me as a new mother was how many older women who had raised their children were completely intolerant of the challenges of factoring in little ones. They had simply forgotten how hard it was, or rewritten it in their heads.

    Even now, I look back on my most recent baby custodianship with a sort of vague, glossy fog. I can force myself to remember what it was like, but can’t capture all the feelings.

    Shared adversity is a powerful thing!

  • By Alisa on 24 June 2011 at 11:07 am

    Yes! That “we’re experienceing that too, and struggling with it” and someone else saying “try this”.

    In terms of puppy, which is different to newborn cause it’s all on speed, I think it’s giving me the strength to be consistent. I might have been a bit soft and let things slide with previous dogs. But this time, cause other people are with me on the journey, it feels important to do “the right things”, I guess.

    Did not like hearing toilet training can take up to 6 months though!!!

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