That Nature Show: Dog Training As Cheap Therapy

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Photo courtesy Wikimedia Commons.
Adorable puppy photo courtesy Wikimedia Commons.

This column, That Nature Show, is about the nature right under your nose: in our backyards, playgrounds and parks!  Stop and look around, you’ll be amazed at what surrounds you.

A few weeks ago I wrote about canis lupus familiaris,  a.k.a the dog, and in our case the dog was a bichon frise puppy that my daughter, 6, named Sugar Bastos Anita Sparkle-Pup Twinkle Crumpet Cinnamon Amanda Next Year Can We Get A Pony? but we just call her Sugar. That is, we call her Sugar when she’s being adorable and sleeping at our feet like a little happy lamb.

But when she barfs in her crate or urinates on the freshly folded laundry we call her other things.  Unprintable things.  I think I shrieked Spawn of Satan! when I saw her eat the poo as it came out of the neighbor’s dog, like it was delicious Pitango gelato.

Did you know the majority of Christmas puppies like ours are taken back to their breeders or to the pound before they’re a year old? A sad statistic I want no part of. So I’ve become a disciple of Dog Whisperer Cesar Milan who is yummy and looks a little like my husband. His teeth are very white. He has major strutty alpha dog charisma.  When Sugar and I listen to him we go “relaxed- submissive” and roll onto our backs with our tongues hanging out. Yes, master.

Training a puppy takes a lot personal discipline. Cesar (anything you say, sir) suggests that you project “calm-assertive energy.” I had to read that aloud from How To Raise The Perfect Puppy and laugh with my husband. Hahahahaha. Oh, Cesar! You do not know me at all! Calm assertive energy? What the hell is that? Unicorn bits?

I’m anxious passive-aggressive; given any leeway I’ll chew on my own furniture.  So it turns out, in training Sugar, I’m going to learn a lot about my end of the leash.



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  1. Funny, funny, funny!!! I laughed out loud several times reading this article (might have even snorted a time or two). Selfishly, though, I need a CAT whisperer — I have a five-month-old Russian Siberian who is either the sweetest cuddly kitten you’ve ever seen (as she purrs and naps in my lap), or she’s hanging off the chandelier (I’m not kidding…) or jumping into the trash can. Any takers?

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