Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Puppy Hell

I haven't written much for this blog lately. I have been preoccupied.

I have a puppy. He is a Black Labrador out of exquisite breeding for hunting.

His name is Rebel.

He is a pain in the ass.

But I expected him to be a pain. After all, he is my fourth Labrador Retriever. Lab puppies are cute as all get out, they are smart and precocious. They are soft and cuddly and their licks just melt your heart.

But Lab puppies have some other stuff that you have to break them of in order to have a semi normal household.

First off, they have to put everything in their mouths. That includes electric cords, all kinds of sticks, balls, shoes, clothes, baseball caps, bottles, leashes, leaves, pretty much anything and everything. And when they pick up one of those objects, they carry it around with their heads and tails held high. All the hunting Labs do that, proud as hell as they carry whatever they can fit in their mouths.

All of my Labs have had different personalities. All love affection, but some love it more than others. Rebel loves it. He revels in it. If he is sitting on your lap and you are petting him and you decide to stop, he takes his paw and pats you on the hand. Or if you tell him No! He takes his paw and puts it over your mouth. He learned the word NO right away. And the strange thing is that once he learned it, and  I say it to him, he stops whatever he is doing and looks at me like the end of the world is coming. I just don't want him chewing my shoes, so I have to tell him that he can't do it, but man, his feelings get hurt. And then invariably he comes over to make amends with copious amounts of licking.

He is also not fond of obedience training. He just wants to be a wild, feral dog. So when I am teaching him to heel and to sit and the basic commands and he is on the leash, he just at some point decides that he is done with the lesson. He locks his little butt on the ground and resists with all his might. He doesn't win, of course, but he acts like I am killing him. His eyes get all droopy and and he puts his chin down and looks at me, pitifully. Oh, the cruelty! After his first obedience lesson, he came into the house and instead of going into the kennel, he climbed onto one of the book shelves and laid down. The pressure was just too much. I know that he is a big faker, but he is convincing. My family thinks that I am the devil, and Rebel does nothing to convince them otherwise.

I have always prided myself that I can housebreak a dog in a few days. I just take them out every time that they wake up or eat or have been running around awhile.Then I use a key phrase (I use hurry up) every time that they use the bathroom, so that eventually they know that when I use those words, it's time to do his business.  Rebel is another story. He somehow has the idea that his kennel is the best place to go to the bathroom. I see him get set to crap in his kennel and I'm running towards him to get him out of there and rush him outside and he's all calm and looking at me like he doesn't get it, like why is the awful man obedience master rushing me out the door? I say hurry up hurry up over and over at 3:30 AM, standing in my underwear and feeling frustrated and foolish while he grabs a stick and runs around the yard or chases a rabbit, all the while acting like I don't exist. Then we get inside and there he goes again, right in his kennel. And the process repeats itself. He does have good days, and he will get it eventually, but he's messing with me, I just know it.

My best dog, Bas, came from great hunting stock also, and he had his issues. He didn't retrieve for the first three months that I had him. Then one day the light went on and he became a retrieving fool. Rebel, at twelve weeks, retrieved a real duck. It was amazing. I was so happy! And then I got back home and was using his bumper to retrieve with him and he did well for a few retrieves, bringing it right back to me and doing super until he decided that eating grass was more to his liking. Another obstacle for little Rebel.

It's all a process of learning, getting to know each other as he progresses, but you forget what it's like have a puppy, and the hours involved with the training, especially if you want to have a well behaved dog. You say to yourself, as the dog gets older, that all of the puppy stuff wasn't so bad, that oh, he was so cute and he learned so fast, because you forget the hell involved in it all. 

So I persevere with Rebel, trying to train this sucker while he resists me at every step along the way.  He's damn cute, though and that goes a long way with most folks. I know its an act, that mournful , sad look . He can't fool me. Well, maybe just a little.

I swear that he just stood up in his kennel, looked at me and started urinating. I got to him before he was emptied his bladder fully and he finished outside. So fun!

All About Being a Lifer

What's a Lifer? Someone who isn't in to something for just a day, a month, a year...it's for life. Whether its training or your family or your job...it doesn't matter. You work at it, you build on it, you see the big picture . You don't miss workouts because it means something to you. You are like a Shakespearean actor- no matter what is going on in your life, you block it out when it's time to train. You walk into the weight room and all else disappears. Worry about it later.