Well, *that* was embarrassing

I took Gretchen to her first obedience class on Monday night. Just going for a car ride was enough to whip her into a frenzy, so she was fairly maniacal by the time we pulled into the kennel club's parking lot. I grabbed her leash and she hopped out of the van, alternately jumping into the air and pulling on the leash like a sled dog. When we got into the training building, I tightened my grip on her leash as we attempted to navigate through a throng of dogs and people. Here is what was going through Gretchen's mind: "Where's the party? Is this the party? Am I the party?"

After spending the last 11 years with the breed, I stand by my assertion that Boxers are challenging to train. Whereas a Border Collie is thinking, "What can I do to please you, oh benevolent owner? Finish the laundry?" the average Boxer is thinking, "You paid money for these classes?! Boy, that's a hoot. Hey, are you gonna eat that?"

Nonetheless, I'm going to cram as many classes into Gretchen as I can. I am in the process of applying for an ILP number from the AKC. If I can obtain the ILP number, I can then compete with her in Obedience and Agility. And call me a glutton for punishment, but I think she can get there. It's just going to be a long, long road. Long, as in "New Jersey to Los Angeles" long.

Gretchen did her best to make me look like an idiot during class. The assistant instructor actually felt compelled to come over and give me some tips, even though she only recently started training herself. Gretchen laid down when she should have been sitting. She ran ahead when she should have been heeling at my side. She tried to eat bits of lint/poop/fur/petrified treat particles off the rubber flooring. I kept having flashbacks to the early days of training Lucy when she was a young upstart. Lucy rolled on her back, four white feet poking the air, while all the good dogs trotted past her, heeling perfectly. Eventually, though, she did earn several titles in both Obedience and Agility. There were a lot of wasted entry fees along the way, of course. If we showed up for a competition and she didn't feel like sitting, she didn't sit. She would cock her head as if to say, "What is this 'sit' of which you speak?"

But, we persevere. I think hope Gretchen is smart, which is one of the reasons I wanted a female this time around. When it comes to Boxers, the boys often have better temperaments but the girls are smarter. Gretchen and I will start daily practice sessions this week in an effort to make next week's class a wee bit less embarrassing than the first one. Hope, as they say, springs eternal . . .