And this little puppy went...

When I bought Charlie, my Cocker Spaniel puppy, it was an impulse purchase. I hadn't walked into the Pet Pad with any intention of buying a dog. Yet somehow I ended up with my boy. Charlie was the most active dog in the store, more interested in gnawing on the hands of would-be owners and running around like a madman off his meds.

Probably for this reason, Charlie's price had been reduced by the time I ambled in to the pet store. He'd overstayed his welcome, showing up on clearance because he'd been around longer than the average puppy. He was the blue-light special, priced hundreds of dollars less than the other pups.

I asked the sales clerk to pluck him from the cage so I could spend a little time with him. Sure, Charlie was feistier than the tiny Maltese with pink ears (my second choice), but he had personality. I liked him instantly. Never mind that I hadn't owned a dog in 15 years or that I knew nothing about this breed. It didn't matter that two cats shared my condominium, that I traveled frequently, or that having a dog would cramp my lifestyle. As Charlie chomped my hands with his sharp puppy teeth, my eyes welled up with tears. This little doggie needed a home.

When I started to blog about the taming of this shrew, a fellow blogger, Monica, appeared out of nowhere with two words--Cesar Millan. I'd never heard of Cesar Millan, a dog psychologist on the National Geographic channel. The fact someone would choose dog psychology as a career path was alarming to me and provoked images of snake charmers and dead pet channelers. But despite my misgivings, Monica's earnest words caused me to check Cesar's program out.

Today, I am hooked. I lose sleep because, with Charlie at my side, I feel compelled to watch every episode of the Dog Whisperer that I recorded on TiVo before I go to bed. I'm not actually applying any of Cesar's lessons, nor have I secured the title of "pack leader" from my dog. I watch to see dogs that have far worse behavioral problems than Charlie. This way, Charlie and I can revel in our superiority.

Max joined in our Dog Whisperer addiction, only his motives are pure. He wants to train Charlie to be the best canine on the block. His goal required a trip to Pet Smart recently, because according to Max, Charlie's unremarkable collar was the source of his troubles.

"He needs a new collar, one that sits higher on the neck and possibly a choke chain." Max proclaimed. "Then when we walk him on the leash, Charlie won't pull away all the time. And, when I go to correct him, he'll notice."

I just didn't see Max's idea working. Still, I accompanied him to Pet Smart, spending two hours choosing the dog's new collar. After returning home, we walked Charlie with his new gear. I didn't see much of a difference. Charlie still pulled, insisting on running ahead, panting for air like he'd been walking in Mojave Desert.

Max was not discouraged. "He just needs more practice."

Call me Tammy Wynette, if you'd like. But, I stand by my man and do what I can to follow in his crazy plans and grand schemes where appropriate. The next day when time came for Charlie's walk, Max was not home. Like a loyal soldier, I hooked Charlie up to his new harness to begin our mile-long journey around the neighborhood.

But Charlie wasn't moving. I turned around to witness the little guy stubbornly sitting on the sidewalk, with other end of the leash in his mouth, and his teeth gripping it away from the collar as if to give himself some slack.

I tugged; he pulled. Charlie refused to walk with the new collar, and no amount of trickery on my part would dissuade him. In a girlish and playful voice, I began my attempts to coax the pint-size fiend.

"Come here, little boy. Do you want a treat?"

Charlie looked away.

"Aww, Sweetie. Don't you want to go on a walk with mommy?" I begin to prance away in hopes that he'd chase me, but Charlie remained firm.

As I ran out of ideas, I also started to lose patience.

"You are not the boss of me, Pooch!" I growled. "Come here NOW! Don't make me come get you..."

But, in response to my growing irritation, Charlie was unphased. He simply turned, with leash in mouth, and walked me back to the house. Like any good master, I obediently followed.

Cesar would be so proud.


Monica said...

Mandy.. Mandy... Mandy...:::shaking my head, back and forth:::: tsk, tsk... that dog owes you! I know, I know... its the cuteness, we just cannot resist the cuteness right?...you are right Cesar will be so proud! :)

utenzi said...

Hmmmm. It does seem as though the puppy is ruling the owner here, Diane. I hope Max can change the dynamic a bit.

He sure is a cute puppy though!

kenju said...

Uh-oh. Trouble, right here in No-river city. He is currently the boss and you had better take control now - or else when he is older - he will be the Emperor and you will be the lowly subject.

├ůsa said...

Well Diane, we all know who is NOT the flock leader in our house now don’t we? Since I have always let Simon sleep on my bed, he ranks himself my equal. After almost 14 years of this I can tell you that it’s not always smart not to be the alpha person in a household with a dog. So to a compromise: try giving him a more comfortable collar and be the boss. Would that work you think?

AmyD said...

Oooooh, I grew up with Spaniels my whole life - I could have warned you about their stubborn personalities. Still, I love that about them, and will probably get one of my own someday. Which is exactly why I bought and am reading Cesar Millan's book, "Cesar's Way." I'm still only a couple chapters into it, but I'll admit I'm intrigued. I'll let you know if it's worth the $18 I spent on it. In the meantime, at least Charlie doesn't take naps in the middle of the road like my ole' Oliver used to (may be rest in doggy peace). Our neighbors got used to it, and would just get out of their cars and move him to the sidewalk. And the few who had big trucks would just leave him slumbering happily as they strategically drove over him. There, do you feel better now? ;o)