Tuesday, 3 September 2013
Paula and Polly (aged 6 months)
It was our third visit to dog training school today, but I freely confess, the drive out to the field is still more of a white knuckle ride than a delight. Each time I pray fervently for no oncoming traffic so my little red Corsa can tackle those flint stewn lanes without being forced into the dreaded 'long winding reverse'!
Thankfully Polly has taken to the car like the proverbial duck to water, hopping onto the back seat without a moment's hesitation. She settles comfortably (wearing her 'Click Safe' car harness) with her soft black nose resting between the front seats and every so often she gives me an encouraging lick on my left arm as we drive along.
Taking part in a formal class is proving to be a very different ball game from practicing Polly's obedience skills in our back garden, or on our local daily walks. Skills she performs easily at home, seem to disappear as if by magic when she goes to school. Despite her initial dislike of lead walking (picture every conceivable trick in the 'Naughty Puppy Handbook' and believe me, Polly mastered them all ... her favourite, to plonk herself belly down on the ground, flatly refusing to budge!) and since Kevin (instructor) visited us at home to set me straight with some sound puppy walking/training advice, walking with my cheeky girl has become far more of a pleasure. We've progressed from willful lead hanging and twirling, flopping to the ground and chasing cars, to earning treats by walking like a young lady at mum's side ... maybe not yet perfect, but definitely much improved and thankfully, more controlled.
Or at least, so I thought until today ...
It's the holiday season so classes are subject to change and today, Polly was tacked onto a big boys' class. Unfortunately one sniff of those testosterone fueled fellas had her all in a flutter, abandoning any modicum of doggy decorum. To be fair to Polly, she did reasonably well with 'sits', 'downs' and 'stays' when asked, but as for 'heeling' on the lead, there wasn't a hope with a handsome bruiser strutting his stuff to her right.
I must admit, today's session was less than pleasurable for me, not least because as a 'newbie' I am still trying to grasp what is expected, also Polly hasn't yet settled into her exciting new surroundings, which makes working with her quite physically demanding (and me feel every creak of my fifty years, lol!) ... but no matter, we muddled through the hour and half required and in terms of progress, I am happy to report Polly redeemed herself with an enthusiastic attempt at running through the agility tunnels which spooked her last time ... she also executed a reasonably solid 'down stay' at the end of class, which was a great improvement on our last session. Good girl Polly!
As for me: tired, disheveled, sweaty (sunny day!) and feeling fairly inadequate in the face of far more accomplished classmates, just about sums it up! All in all, 'could do better,' is probably a fair assessment of my training skills at this point ...
Hopefully this old dog will soon learn a few new tricks!
Making the decision to have our beautiful Polly spayed, wasn't taken lightly. I researched thoroughly, discussed the matter with our vet of many years and quite simply, agonised. The arguments on both sides of the spay equation were compelling, but the medical benefits were sufficiently significant to convince me it would be in Polly's best long-term interests to be spayed ... and as I have no intention of breeding or showing her, my primary concern will always be to keep her happy and safe.
I had several sleepless nights as the date for Polly's operation approached and to be honest, felt as though I was abandoning her as I gave up her lead to the vet and walked away. Then I waited nervously for half past twelve to hurry up, so I could ring the surgery receptionist to ask how Polly was. As it turned out, my anxiety was needless, Polly had sailed through surgery and would be ready to collect in a couple of hours.
Naturally my lovely bouncy girl was a little dozy and confused straight after her general anaesthetic, but by tea time had perked up considerably and even managed to eat scrambled eggs for her tea. I must admit, I expected her recovery to be far slower, but she has shown no obvious sign of pain, had no 'accidents' with toileting and if she didn't have a little scar on her tummy, it would be impossible to know she'd ever even had surgery!
Polly is delighted to be home and as you can see from the photograph of her playing with her Kong feeder, taken a couple of days after her operation, is completely back to her usual playful, cheeky self!