Monday, November 5, 2007

Couper Goes To Kindergarten - Week 3

Just to calm everybody’s fears, the current writers strike will not affect Couper’s Poop. Neither Couper’s Mommy nor I get paid a cent for writing this blog. Critics and economists agree that is just about right (maybe even a bit over paid). So we will be here to provide quality dachshund blogging regardless of what those fat cats in Hollywood do. However, I do have lots of half written scripts for What’s Happenin’, Jake and the Fatman, BJ and the Bear, Chico and the Man, and After MASH. If any of those shows are still on the air, please have the producers contact me. I'm not afraid to cross the line.

As you will recall, we were very nervous about the walk into Petsmart. We were instructed to do loose leash walking into the classroom which is located in the middle of the store. As we approached the strip mall (it has a much nicer name that Couper’s Mommy knows, but I constantly forget), we decided to park a little closer than we usually do. In fact, I suggested that we make Petsmart a drive-thru. Kind of like senior citizens do every few months in Boca Raton or some such place. As always, Couper’s Mommy was the voice of reason. However, I suspect some of her opposition to the driver-thru idea was because she was driving her car. It was a good idea. In the end, we decided to park as close as we could without violating handicapped parking statutes.

As always, as we got out of the car, Couper barked and charged at anyone he could find. And maybe even a few people he couldn’t find. We only had to take a few steps, and make 6 stops to cease pulling, until we came to our biggest obstacle, the crosswalk. There were two ways to play this. The first was to keep the integrity of the loose leash walk and make on-coming cars wait for us, no matter how long it took. The second way was to violate the loose leash walking rules and lose a week of “training” by rushing across the street, Couper pulling us all the way. What happened? Well, I would love to tell you it was something dramatic, hilarious, and inspiring. But no. There were no cars in sight and Couper walked right beside me. Great for us then. Lousy material for the blog now. (We already used our stock photo of Couper crossing the street in last week's post, so for no reason whatsoever, here is an old picture of Couper with a rubber chicken. Rubber Chickens are never not funny).

Without walk-in drama, we were a bit early. We were wandering around as usual when one of the other trainers came up to us and told us that she would be subbing for Ms. Puppyteacher. We shall call her Ms. Puppysub. It became quickly obvious that Ms. Puppyteacher did not leave sub plans for Ms. Puppysub. For those of you not in the education game, sub plans are detailed instructions left by the regular teacher for the substitute teacher so that the class does not just screw around while the regular teacher is absent. And you thought that teachers just call in sick and head down to Trader Vic’s for Mai Tais. Wrong. They spend hours detailing every aspect of the class for the substitute. Then they call in sick and head down to Trader Vic’s for Mai Tais. The sub then ignores the sub plan and lets the class screw around all day.

Not to get into too much detail, but Ms. Puppysub kept bringing up things that she thought we should know. When she found out we did not know them, she got upset that those things were not taught in week one (maybe we forgot them, who knows). Her basic claim was that we could not do week three work without knowing these supposed week one things. This got very tiring very quickly. We finally more or less told her, “Just teach us something”. Although it is supposed to be a core curriculum, there could be different ways of teaching it. We got the feeling there is a little competitiveness (kind word) in the Puppy teaching world.

One thing that Ms. Puppysub found out early was that Couper did not like or respond well to spray bottle discipline. Ms. Puppysub was a better shot with the spray bottle than Ms. Puppyteacher. She actually got Couper a bit wet. Couper immediately went into attack mode. Ms. Puppysub quickly decided that spray bottles should never be used with Couper. I was a bit deflated, because I had hoped that Couper’s spray bottle aggressiveness towards the scatter-shooting Ms. Puppyteacher was because she was hitting me and Couper was defending me. It was obvious from this week, that he just does not like the spray bottle period. I didn’t catch every word, but later Couper’s Mommy told Couper that the spray bottle she had bought for home use would now only be used on Big Buddy. They both had a good laugh.

The bottom line for week three's lesson was we were taught three new commands: "wait-OK", "drop it", and "leave it".

“Wait” is what we are supposed to use to make sure that we go through doors first. “OK” is the release word. Although we know that we are supposed to go through doors before Couper, we often do not. We have many excuses reasons for this. The first is Couper usually wants to go first. He is in charge, not to mention quicker than us. He wants to get outside to play and poop. He wants to come in to get yummies. The second reason is to coax him in/out if he does not want to go in/out. Sometimes he just does not want playtime to end. And god forbid if it is cold out and we want his delicate hiney to go potty. So we walk behind him to make sure he actually goes out/in. The third scenario is he wants to come in, we want to go first, and we take the first step in. Usually there is a little brown flash through our feet beating us through the door. If you think that 12 pounds can’t take down 190 pounds, you are very wrong. As it turns out, Couper is not bad at this command. We kind of have to nudge him out of the way and/or point when we say “wait”, but that is legal and it usually works. However, if there is any one command that gets me hurt in this class, “wait” will be it. (For no reason, right is a picture of Couper with a toy that looks like a beer. Dogs and fake beers are never not funny).

“Drop it” was the toughest to teach. When we are in the class, everything revolves around yummies. Sometimes we think that Couper sees Kindergarten as some sort of yummy buffet. Just snacks and playing. Nothing like real Kindergarten. On Saturday, during “drop it” practice, he was so focused on getting yummies that he would not pick up anything to drop. Not toys, not bones, not rawhide, not tissues, nothing. He just followed us around the classroom looking for his next treat. We did not get much out of that one.

“Leave it” is a big one. It is to be used for something we don’t want him to pick up as well as for something we want him to ignore; other dogs on a walk for example. This was practiced by putting a biscuit on the floor and as he went for it, putting our foot over it and yelling “leave it!!!”. Couper paid attention to that. The toughest part of the exercise was not putting our foot down too hard and smashing the biscuit in a million pieces.

This is all good stuff. The only problem is that it doubles Couper’s command vocabulary. This may or may not be a problem for Couper (I am not entirely sure he knows any of the commands), but is a big problem for Big Buddy. Let’s review Couper’s commands to date:
  • Yes
  • Uh-uh (people still do not believe that is how the word is spelled. Everybody thinks there is an “n” in there someplace. Please click on the speaker off the link to hear an automated voice pronounce it. Couper's Mommy did when the original link was posted. About 35 times. Couper was so confused. He's thinking, "What did I do??? And who is this weird dude telling me I did something wrong???").
  • Sit
  • Wait
  • Drop it
  • Leave it
As we were walking out of the store, Couper acted up. It went a little something like this:
Couper: Ruff!!! Ruff!!!! Woof!!!! Woof!!! Grrrrrrrr!!!!!!!
Big Buddy: Wait! No, uh Drop it! No, uh, Stuff it!
Couper: (?) Arf Arf Arf!!!! Grrrrrrrrrrrrr!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Couper’s Mommy: Sit! No, uh Leave it!
Couper: (???) Ruff!!! Ruff!!! …

It is a couple of days later, and I am still hesitating on what command to use in a live situation. Maybe I need Kindergarten again. I’ll go as long as there is no sub.

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