Wait Till You Hear This!

A dog who is well-behaved, comes when called, eats whatever food is placed before him. A dog who doesn’t feel compelled to splatter through every available mud puddle, who stays reasonably clean and sheds minimally, if at all. A dog who obeys commands and requests quickly and happily. A dog who is a quiet companion and never a pest. A dog who doesn’t bark unnecessarily but sounds off to deter would be burglars if the need arises. A dog who never begs at the table, never jumps on guests and never ever exercises his teeth on treasured furniture. That’s the sort of dog the average pet owner hopes to have.

Boring. With a paragon such as that you can’t regale your friends with stories of your dog’s escapades. You can’t recount his wild and crazy adventures or astonishing accomplishments at gatherings. You can’t top your friends’ tales of their mischievous dogs with, “That’s nothing. Wait till I tell you what my dog did!” Would the author ever have written ‘Marley and Me’ if his dog was a model canine companion? Of course not. Let’s face it, no one is going to shell out hard-earned dollars to read about a well-mannered couch potato. Like I said — boring.

That’s rarely a problem when you have Beardies. My gang has kept me well fortified with subject matter over several decades. Like tonight, for instance. I had two biscuits in my pocket when Dalton and Glynnis came into the house. I gave one to Dalton and offered the other to Glynnis who made it quite clear, by staring at the fridge, that what she really wanted was a piece of liver. When none was forthcoming, she reluctantly took the biscuit gingerly between her front teeth as though she could hardly bear to touch it. Then, with a look of pure contempt, she dropped it in the water dish with a satisfying splash and stalked out of the kitchen.

When it comes to supplying me with story material, my youngest, Declan, may be worth a book one of these days. He vacillates between clever and clown. For his first foray into obedience, he was entered in Beginner Novice. For those unfamiliar with this class, one exercise has the exhibitor leave the dog on a stay in the middle of the ring while s/he walks around the perimeter of the ring and then returns to heel position. The spot where the dog was to sit had been marked with chalk and as we approached it, Declan seemed fascinated with the hieroglyphics. It took a moment to convince him it was neither interesting nor edible but he went on to hold the sit, then complete the rest of the exercises and earn his first leg on the title.

In his second trial, the judge had marked the ‘sit spot’ with a strip of blue tape. Remembering his reaction to the markings on the mat at the first trial, I positioned him a little to one side of the tape so he wouldn’t be inclined to get up and inspect it more thoroughly. With a firm “stay” I took off for my circumnavigation of the ring, never glancing toward Declan lest he think I wanted him. With a sigh of relief, I saw him sitting just where I left him. But the judge was chuckling visibly. “What?” I asked him. It seems while waiting for my return, Declan had looked over at the strip of tape and decided it didn’t belong there. Without getting up, he leaned over, gripped it with his teeth, ripped it up and tossed it several feet away. “Well, where’s the tape?” I queried. “On the bottom of your shoe. You stepped on it on the way around him.” Any dignity I might have possessed disappeared as I tried to remove it while balancing on one foot and still retaining a grip on the lead. At least he earned another leg.

Later, with his BN title in the bag, I optimistically entered Declan in Novice. All went reasonably well until the Long Sit. Halfway through, my boy turned his back to me, dropped into a down and began to chew on something. I guessed perhaps he’d found a burr in his paw. They abound on my property this time of year. But when the judge told us to return to our dogs, I saw that wasn’t the case. Instead, there was Declan with the remains of my shredded arm band between his paws and he was merrily rip, rip, ripping it into a dozen pieces. The judge burst into laughter. “He’s just a puppy,” she exclaimed. Declan appears to have a knack for making judges laugh. I believe he has a great future……….more likely in comedy than in obedience.

— alice bixler, Bearded Collie Club of America, bcca.us.