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My life as a writer, and as a wife, mother, and grandmother.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Rocky Goes to Obedience School

 Rocky goes to Obedience School

By Dee Gatrell

          “My cookie! Gimme!” My two-year-old granddaughter, Ashley fought the German Shepherd dog for the cookie he tried snatching from her hand. She got half, he got half. She was angry and yelled at him. He just looked at her like, “Hey, what did I do? Your hand was near my mouth.” For the next two weeks, it was a constant battle between them.

Rocky was a German Shepard given to us when we lived in Ohio. One of our friend’s daughters couldn’t keep him anymore.  Not only was the dog a cookie thief, but he had no manners. We’d put him out to use the bathroom, and if someone was taking a walk by the house he’d run down the long driveway and bark and scare them. We tried keeping him in the house, but he’d want to go out to romp, which was fine as long as one of us was with him. After all, he had ten acres to run on. So why did he have to run the several hundred feet to the road to scare people? He really wasn’t all that brave.

I read in the paper there was a dog obedience class starting soon, so I signed him up. I think I was more excited about going to them than Rocky was. The first night of class, I drove my husband’s Chevy S-10, which is a pretty small vehicle. Rocky sat beside me and was behaving. When we arrived at our destination, there were a lot of dogs.

Our first assignment was to get in a line and walk in a large circle. One wall was lined with mirrors. We would walk, then told to have the dogs sit. Most of the time Rocky would sit, but while the others dogs ignored the “doggie in the mirror” Rocky fell in love with himself. It wasn’t easy to get him up and moving again. I swear if he could’ve talked he would have said, “Look at that handsome dog in the mirror. I think I’m in love.”

At the end of the night, the instructor told us repeatedly to make sure we praised our dogs on the way home and when we got home. We get into the truck and Rocky decided he wanted to sit almost on my lap. I kept pushing him over, but again, he wanted to be close. So I told him, “You were such a good dog. And you are going to learn to have manners.”

It was about a fifteen minute drive to our house. I turned onto the street where he lived, again assuring Rocky he was a good dog, but I’d like him more if he quit trying to get into my lap. Nearly to our house, Rocky laid his head in my lap and threw up. A lot. All over my legs.

I pulled into the garage and told him he really wasn’t a good dog for doing that. I walked into the family room and my daughter, Michelle, and my husband, Larry, took one look at me and started to laugh.  I told them I was supposed  to tell Rocky he was a good dog, but right now I didn’t think he was.

Six weeks later we were finished with obedience school. But Rocky still didn’t listen when I called him and he still swiped cookies out of Ashley’s hands.

Then my husband was transferred from OH to FL and we had to find a home for Rocky. We were having a house built and had to rent an apartment until it was finished. I took Rocky to the vet for his checkup and asked if he could help me find him a good home. The next day I got a phone call from a young woman who was recommended by our vet. She was really excited and came to visit him. They fell in love instantly.

Rocky went to live with her and her roommate. They had someone try breaking into their house and wanted a big dog to protect them. She took him home and called me the following week to report in.

“He is absolutely wonderful,” she said. “My roommate has a little girl and they get along well. But the best part is that I work for my dad and he lets me bring Rocky to work with me every day. We all really love him.”

I was so happy to hear that. I hated having to give him up, in spite of his bad habits.

Oh, did I mention after the vomiting episode I didn’t feed him dinner before we left for class?  No more vomiting on the way home!