Tuesday, August 20, 2013


Brilliant Dog?

The instructor is mistaken.

Harley is literally the teacher's pet. But she treats all her students well. Just that our class keeps shrinking. I felt so sorry for our instructor who burst into tears telling up what happened to "Dolly" one of our canine students who went AWOL.  Her owners listened to inane friends make remarks about their dog possibly having mixed pit bull and being a potential disaster for them.


They listened to their friends rather than the pet experts, then inexplicably returned her to the rescue agency because one evening when they tried to remove her toy from her mouth she playfully growled at them.  Ironically, they skipped that week's class where "drop it" and "leave it" were taught.


Our doggy professor was heart broken, bursting into tears. I was shocked. The couple that owned Dolly seemed so delightful. It's inexplicable they would just give up so quickly. Now we're all just disgusted. Dolly was a cool doggy, and now she is being bounced around all over again, homeless and unloved.

I am so touched that the dog trainer really does put her heart and soul into her canine charges.

Harley exasperates me but charms her. Go figure.

The first week I had Harley dog, I thought that I too, had made a colossal mistake. But poor little Harley had already had a very rough time before landing in my motorhome. He was my mistake and I would live with it. When I found out these little fellows can live 15 years or more, I thought this was going to be one long lengthy error in judgement. I just hoped that some how it would manage to work out OK.

Then it occurred to me. We were both damaged goods. Maybe we could make this work out after all.

Maybe Harley didn't think I was such a hot choice either. He seems even to this day to have preferred a large family and a big back yard without tethers or leashes. Not a decrepit mermaid in a little old motorhome with no back yard to call our own but the whole wide world beneath our tires.

Ironically, a week into owning Harley, discovering all his foibles and fears, a delightful eccentric couple met Harley and literally begged me for him. They even offered great sums. I got Harley for free over the phone sight unseen. An hour later a pathetic sack of bones posing as a poor excuse for a puppy was handed over. He came with nothing. He had no shots, he wasn't trained, he wasn't neutered, he wasn't healthy at all.

Within a week I had fallen hopelessly in love with my bundle of trouble. I kept him. We needed each other. In a strange twist of fate, I needed a pet sitter for six hours for three days in a row. This couple enthusiastically volunteered. It gave me complete peace of mind that he was in such good hands those three days. I missed him something awful too even though I picked him up every afternoon.

It took Harley and I a very long time to save up for his current schooling. The fees aren't that outrageous, but mostly my efficient budget covers the necessities we need. There isn't much left over for frills. But nature is free so we are thrilled with that.

In the interim I have (lazily?) tried everything I could to train this dog who simply has a mind of his own. I bought a clicker and read all about clicker training. I tried the same words and hand signals over and over. Harley yawned.

All my previous large dogs responded very well to my training. Effortlessly. Each one was a joy to have around, so well behaved and a thrill to take places without worry.

Then along came Harley who can barely hold onto 6 pounds of weight. He has been losing weight. I don't know why, he has no illness, he eats like a horse. But he just burns it up I guess. Maybe he needs more treats.

Is it me?  Is it Harley?  Is it live or is it Memorex?

I think Harley has a selective learning disorder. He learns what he wants to know and the rest of it he can just as soon ignore with an attitude that he has better things to do.

He knows the names of all his toys. He finally reluctantly learned "sit".  He hates the word "Stay"  but he has little choice in the matter. Usually I say "Stay" whenever I lock him inside the motorhome alone.  But he has finally got the hang of "Stay" and what it means. I say it when I get out to pump gas, I surely don't need a wild ragamuffin running a muck between car wheels in a busy gasoline station. He did that as a puppy once giving me a horrendous fright.

"Down", "Off", "Come", "Drop it"  are all random words to him. He might or might not respond.  Cattitude. That's what I call it. He reminds me of a cat that can thoroughly ignore the wants and desires of humans while sucking up at the same time.

Harley loses rapid interest in the canine class instructor when his belly becomes full of her wonderful treats. I bring out the backup plan, a baggie of small cubes of cheese, his favorite food.

But he simply tires of training, then stubbornly refuses to work for food. Yet the dog trainer says he is brilliant and thinks about commands, then decides whether he will perform or not. She went so much as to say he was very intelligent!

Ha!  I want some rose colored glasses too!

See my frustration? Cattitude!


  1. Harley is your wonder dog, and that's all that matters......

  2. Cattitude. Yep that is exactly correct. As a cat parent, I can totally relate. They have selective hearing as well.

  3. Hang in there Monkey:) You will eventually train her!

    The Troutman

  4. Hang in there...Maggie was a little like Harley..
    she turned six this year...I have noticed a very big
    change in her...she listens and obeys commands most all
    the time now..she also is very smart and knows exactly what
    you are saying to her...really Harley is still a puppy :)

  5. That story is sad, I am getting a little dog from a rescue organization is Mexico. I fell in love, that simple. I am anticipating all sorts of learnings but I have made the committment and that will not change. I am now reading dog traing books and planning for her arrival. I can't wait!

  6. Why do you want him to be a robot obeying commands? Let Harley be a dog.Isn't that why you have him? Geez.

  7. How would all of you like someone to tell you to sit,down,come,stop......??? Enjoy your pets instead of trying to control them.

  8. We have found that pugs are like your Harley dog. Larger dogs we have owned are easily trained with clickers, repetition, patience and treats. Pugs are food motivated until their bellies are full, or they are sleepy. The clicker thing doesn't work at all, unless accompanied by food.

    They learn quickly that if they do a trick, they get a treat. If you try to get them to do a trick for a click -- they'll do it once or twice, expecting the food. Quickly, they ignore the clicker and wait for the treat.

    It's one of the reasons that I adore them.


Life is goof!