A Total Shambles- Dog Style

October 21, 2016

 

 

I’ve been feeling pretty good about myself lately. Not in an overt, boasting kind of way, you understand, as that wouldn’t be British. But from time to time I catch myself grinning and quietly take a moment to pat myself on the back.

My writing career is on the up- another book comes out this month, a new contract to write more, nice reviews- my foolhardy gamble appears to have paid off. If I was of a mind to, I might even feel smug at my achievements and say well done you! You’re pretty awesome. Fortunately, I have someone who keeps my feet firmly on the ground. Someone who reminds me I am fallible. Not perfect and, let’s me frank, more often than not a complete failure. That somebody is Trevor, my five and half month-old Labrador Retriever puppy.

 

 I think the polite way of saying it, is Trevor has character. He’s clumsy, semi-destructive and attention-seeking. Playful, hugely entertaining and affectionate. The world, in his sorrowful, manipulative, big brown puppy-dog eyes, revolves around him and I suppose so it should. I love the little fella to bits. We silently communicate using telepathy and understand each other perfectly. I think I should also mention at this point, the mutt is super-intelligent. He worked out how a peddle bin worked at nine weeks, meaning he can thoroughly cover the carpet in rubbish in a matter of seconds. He can open doors, shut Steve the cat out of rooms, stealthily steal food from your plate and get inside all manner of packaging quickly and efficiently, while helpfully shredding it to make it easier to dispose of.

 

Thanks to my binge watching of Caesar Milan in ‘The Dog Whisperer’, I knew right away Trevor needed to see me as The Pack Leader. The Alpha.

 

She who must be obeyed.

 

With almost evangelical zeal I began to put into practice the great Caesar’s teachings. Trevor learned to ‘sit’ and ‘wait’. Like the true alpha I am, I walk through doors or down the stairs first, always with a wet black nose pressed firmly against my shin, chivvying me on. He understands ‘Trevor-wee-wees’ and proudly pees on demand in my beloved garden and stares at me while he does so. A garden which will now have to be completely re-turfed as, it turns out, puppy pee kills everything.

 

 

After I bought him several difficult doggy puzzles, all of which he cracked in a matter of seconds, and I noticed he can sniff anything out no matter how well it is hidden, I decided it was time to take my genius hound to puppy training. I am not going to lie, like any typical proud parent of a child prodigy, I assumed Trevor would immediately go to the top of the class. With his skills, how could he not?

 

And that, dear reader is where my borderline smugness turned swiftly into abject failure. The best way I can think to describe our performance at puppy training is shambolic, and that is on a good night. Four lessons in and I can see the frustration and hatred in the other dog-owners’ eyes. Why is he here? He’s wasting everyone’s time! I’ve paid good money for these lessons and I get to watch that mad dog behave badly again?

 

 

To be fair to Trevor, he was kind of OK the first lesson. He listened, sort of, largely because he was being bribed with fresh roast chicken and cocktail sausages. Labradors like to eat and to keep him obedient my son pumped him full of food and marched him up and down the outdoor arena for a good twenty minutes before Trevor rebelled. However, once he started jumping up and down, trying to rip those tasty sausages out of my son’s pockets it was all over. He vomited on his shoes and then spent the rest of the lesson rolling on his back and showing everyone his ever-increasing ginger balls.

 

From then on, his behaviour at puppy training has taken a nose-dive. Hell, who am I kidding? It’s gone into free fall. This week he wouldn’t do a damn thing. I asked him to sit and he ran in excited circles around my feet. Tried to make him wait and he decided to go sniff the other’s dog’s bottoms. He managed to walk to heel for all of five seconds before he broke into a run and very nearly ripped my arm out of the socket.

 

The dog trainer, bless her, tried to make excuses for him all lesson. “It’s a full moon… Trevor is from working stock and they are quite boisterous… ignore his bad behaviour everyone, he’s just attention-seeking.” A very polite way of saying my dog is a total diva- something which is not helped by the fact that he is the biggest puppy there. Those little pugs and cockapoos barely come up to Trevor’s knobbly ginger knees.

 

The ultimate humiliation came when we had to call our dogs to us- or as the trainer calls it ‘practicing our come to me’s’. She took it in turns to hold the leads of every dog. The owner then had to walk halfway across the arena and then call them. A simple enough task.

 

Usually.

 

One by one, those obedient little pooches bounded excitedly towards their owners, basked in their affection and sat proudly at their feet to receive their bit of chicken reward.

 

When it came to our turn, I was reasonably confident. After all, we do this all the time. Every day in the park he comes when called. Sort of. He loves me. I don’t usually require the added incentive of chicken. I’m his best friend…

 

She held him by the leash and I began to walk away from him. When I turned, I knew I was doomed. Trevor gave me that look. The one which said, I am my own dog. I comply only because it suits me. At heart, you silly misguided, sorry excuse for a pack leader, I am a rebel and I cannot be tamed.

 

Call him,” she said.

 

Trevor.”

 

Not like that. Call him with enthusiasm.”

 

I knew the very last thing Trevor needed at this stage was enthusiasm but complied because every other eye in the arena was on me. Judging me for my ineptitude. I knew exactly what they were all thinking. The stupid woman cannot even call her own dog properly.

 

T-revorrrr!”

 

My face was smiling, even though I was dying inside, but I made sure my eyes were shooting daggers at my dog. Silently, using only telepathy, I warned him that if he dared to do what I thought he was going to do, then he would be eating the cheapest, nastiest dog food for the rest of the week.

 

 

Trevor stared back at me defiantly and I swear I saw him smile when the dog trainer let go of his lead. He didn’t run at first. Like the evillest of villains, he likes to lull his victims into a false sense of security, but I wasn’t fooled.

 

He centred himself.

 

Went into a crouch.

 

Then launched himself like a skud missile.

 

 

 

Needless to say, he didn’t run towards me; he barrelled past me at about seventy miles per hour, then began to run laps around the arena. Round and round he went, kicking up dirt and barking at the moon like a loon. Then he started digging a hole in the middle of the neat training ring, and trust me that dog can dig fast!

 

I did try to stop him. A half-hearted, lack-lustre attempt because I knew it was ultimately futile, and felt my body shrink with the silent judgement of my peers. In desperation, I looked towards the spectators’ area for support, only to see my husband pull up his hood and cover his face with his hands.

 

Satisfied with his big hole and completely covered in mud, Trevor then went and sniffed a few arses and finished by rolling on his back so that everyone could get one final look at his impressive golden balls.

 

I left the arena with my tail hanging limply between my legs, a broken woman. Trevor left with his wagging, that Labrador grin on his cute face and a jaunty spring in his step. He flicked me a look and, because I now speak fluent dog, I knew exactly what it said.

 

My work here is done. Take me home bitch.

 

 

Virginia Heath writes witty, fast-paced Regency romantic comedies with a modern twist for Harlequin Historical. Her next novel, The Discerning Gentleman's Guide, is released on 1st November 2016.

 

 

'Choosing a wife is not a task that should be undertaken lightly.’

Bennett Montague, sixteenth Duke of Aveley, is seeking the perfect bride. He’s narrowed his search to five worthy ‘Potentials’…until the arrival of his aunt’s companion unravels his carefully laid plans.

Having fought for everything she has, Amelia Mansfield is incensed by Bennett’s wife selection methods. But as she’s forced to spend time in his company, she begins to see another side to Bennett – and that man is infinitely more tantalising and enticing …

 

 

 

 

 

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