You have to remember that Rosie has only been named Rosie since last Friday. Before that, she was Pixie. So we've been working for three days on getting her to recognize her name. It's coming along, but hey, I bet you didn't know your name three days after you got it.
We've also worked on "sit," to no avail. (She's soooo bouncy.) We've worked on "come here!" with pretty good results, as long as I'm packing treats.
More important, she adores me, she adores other dogs, she adores all other humans, and she adores the world at large.
So I was pretty confident when we set off this evening for her first puppy kindergarten class.
The class is just five blocks away, but that's too far for her to walk yet--she is only eight weeks old. So I packed her into her cardboard box, which was on the front seat of my car, and we headed out. She wasn't quite as docile this time around as she was last Thursday night, when she rode in the box all the way from the foster home in Rosemount, 35 minutes away, to our house. She's getting bigger. She's gaining energy, and strength. She poked her head out of the box and looked around.
When we got to the Canine Coach, a couple with two puppies was walking up to the front door. Rosie wasn't even half the size of these dogs--they're litter mates, German shepherd mix, and several weeks older than she is--but she immediately jumped on their heads. First one, then the other. They looked mildly alarmed, like any good German would.
The class was pretty full; there were about a dozen people there, with pups of all sizes and ages--anything up to 17 weeks. One dog was nearly as big as Riley. Yikes. We worked on name recognition (the coach demonstrated on Rosie, see top picture), and she didn't totally humiliate herself. Most dogs knew their names, no problem. A couple of them were so distracted that they seemed not to know anything at all. Rosie was somewhere in between.
She did pretty well at most of the exercises--during puppy socialization, she immediately fell besottedly in love with a Corgi, and pounced on his head over and over again, and mounted him again and again, despite his adorable shambling short-legged attempts to get away from her. I kept peeling her off of him and sending her in the other direction, but she'd wheel around and leap on him again.
Let it be known that she was not the only dog to pee in class.
But when we had to do the "relaxation hold"--well, that's where she really made a name for herself.
The relaxation hold is what you're supposed to do with your dog when they are agitated, overly excited, or in a situation where you need to calm then down. We got in a circle, knelt down, and put our puppies between our knees. Then we wrapped our arms around their torso and pressed our chest against their back. The idea was to sort of envelop them, touching them in as many places as possible, holding them still so that they felt secure and safe.
Or, if they were Rosie, trying to hang on while she squirmed and bucked and thrashed and screamed bloody murder.
She kept wriggling and thrashing, trying to squirt out from under my arms. She screamed and whimpered and thrashed some more. All of the other dogs looked sort of comatose in the relaxation hold. All you could see was their calm little faces, peering out from their owners' wrapped arms. The instructor talked at length about what a soothing pose this is for dogs, but she had to raise her voice so that she could be heard over Rosie's screams.
(Here's the Corgi, the alarmed object of Rosie's affections.)
At the end of class, as I was gathering up my keys and camera and jacket and the bag of treats and the stuffed raccoon, I let slip her leash and Rosie darted off to say goodbye to the other dogs. "Rosie! It's Rosie!" I heard. "Hey, Rosie," someone else said.
She might not know her name, but everybody else seems to.
We have homework for next week: We need to get ten strangers a day to pet her and give her food. Not sure how I can do that, since I'm at work all day, but I'll do my best. We need to work on the "come here!" command and name recognition. And we're supposed to put our puppy in the relaxation hold every night for several minutes. (Could she really have said for ten minutes? Oh Lord I hope not. I don't think I can hang on that long.)