Monthly Archives: November 2012

11/27/12 Who is Training Whom?

Tuesday.  Really it is only Tuesday? In some ways my life feels like it is standing still — caught in a time warp.  But I know time has been marching on.  Thanksgiving has come and gone.  Memorial for my Mother has come and gone. Snow is coming again (and then it will be gone.)  But day in and day out I am in CT not NYC and that will not change for awhile.   As long as my dad stays home in hospice care I will be here with him, wrapped in our own little time warp.

But I know Time waits for no man.  I’ve been training.  Haphazard at best.  Lisa has me doing a lot of variety.  I joined a new gym here called The Zoo and I really like it.   Yoga classes, spin classes (hard), lots of core, pilates (the mat kind — I stink),  run/walks, lots of hiking, (Did and up and over Talcott Mountain with my friend Amy and that was on my “to-do” list.)  I did the Manchester Road race again on Thanksgiving morning and that was an eye opener.  Actually I worked hard during it and thought I didn’t stink too badly though I walked the big hill totally (and probably will for the rest of my life.)

And then I got a bee in my bonnet.  Okay it was more like a puppy in my panama.  I had wanted to get a dog for a long time (even when I was in NYC) but knowing how much I would be traveling back and forth to CT and how much attention a dog would require I put it on the back shelf.  Then I woke up one morning and realized this was a perfect opportunity to get a dog and train him right.  For two weeks I filled out CIA-clearance-worthy applications to adopt a shelter dog.  Nobody wanted to give me a dog.  Well they would give me an eight-year old blind dog with one leg missing, but a young trainable dog, not so lucky.  I wanted a shelter dog but I was really on the verge of saying forget it and go to a breeder when the Simon Foundation responded to my inquiry about a puppy named Higgins.  I was sure he was a lost leader.  No way was such a cute puppy available for adoption.  Well I was wrong, they called me on Wednesday and on Saturday Higgins came home with me.

He will be 9 weeks old on Thursday.  I had a checklist of all the things I wanted in a dog and he matches every single one.  Not too big, not too small (I think he will grow to about 40-50 pounds).  A lab mix (apparently they all are these days — but they think some spaniel in there.) Short hair (he will shed but maintenance will be easier than Lhasa Apsos!)   He is a brave little one.  He is not afraid of anything which is a welcome change for me.  (I had two shelter dogs for about 14 years both of whom had been abused.  One was afraid of her own shadow and the other one was just plain angry).   I wanted an opportunity to train a dog from the beginning without harsh words or a harsh hand.  I wanted the opportunity to channel my puppy’s energy into good training.  I wanted to be a good dog owner and train my dog to be a great companion.  I wanted to be the Dog Whisperer!

I confessed to my family that I was worried that I wouldn’t be a good dog trainer. (Two of my brothers have 3 dogs each.)  My sister-in-law scoffed — “Don’t you worry about the training, that dog will have you trained in no time.”  Lots of knowing chuckles.  “No, No, I insisted.  I am going to be a text-book dog trainer and my dog will be crated and trained and he’s never going to beg for scraps from the table.”  (forlorn looks from a Mastiff and a Black Lab from the end of the table as if to say “hey what did we do?”)

I really couldn’t believe my good fortune when I picked up Higgins.  He was a handsome puppy and full of energy.  But there is something so very smart about him.  He’s only 8 weeks old and I taught him “sit” and “down” already.   We have to go outside every 2 hours (YES every 2 hours for a little puppy).  He knows what we are doing and where we are going.  He sits and let’s me put his little collar on, we go outside and he plays in the field (owner gets a little leg stretch too) and then sits and waits for me to take off his collar and now I tell him down and he lies down.  I have to come up with something new to teach him today otherwise he’ll get bored.  He chews everything.  EVERYTHING.  But I’m with him so I get to redirect him to chew toys and not the couch.  I truly don’t understand how anyone could train a dog without being home with it.

My only problem right now is getting out to do my own training.  Yesterday he was a good boy and stayed in the crate for 1 hour by himself while I went to the store.  Today he’ll do 1 hour while I go for my run and then another half hour later.  Once he hits 12 weeks we have a ton of doggie daycare where he can play with other dogs while I do my longer workouts.  But for the next four weeks it’s just me and Higgins.  And apparently a lot of situps and squats.  Today I think I’ll try some backyard lunges with him and then a run.

So my funny story of the morning.  5 a.m. I am woken by a clear voice “I need to go to the bathroom.”  Okay, Okay, I say and I get up and put on my shoes and jacket on (now waiting by the door for quick exit).  I grab Higgins and we go outside.  Still somewhat sleeping, I was waiting for him to go when  it suddenly occurs to me “Hey, my dog can’t talk.  Whose voice was that that woke me up?”   It was a male voice, very clear.  I realized that not only is Higgins very good with understanding my commands but he has telepathic powers as well and a million ideas for my new sitcom about my talking dog bounced around in my head.  I’m thinking reincarnation.  Then on further reflection I realized, my father’s room is now right under my room and in fact it was probably him saying that to his nurse and Higgins just got the benefit.

And so this is my life, for now.  I will reemerge in the Spring with a perfect pushup and a perfect puppy.


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