Chapter 37 
(September 2010):

The Gangster is a Coward!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Who would have ever believed it? We all thought he was a swaggering John Wayne macho, the way he pushes me away from our water bottle, butts his way past all of us to get out the door first, takes over my bed and bones.

Then came the rude awakening. Spring finally arrived and our dog school courses resumed: Diarmuid in beginners’ Rally-Obedience and I in advanced Rally-O. In April there was a one-day introductory workshop on Rally–O and it not being quite full, Mummy enrolled Little Brother, thinking that he would have forgotten everything he had learned last fall and that every hour he spent at the dog school would help him to be better prepared for his BH exam in September. The little brat refused to cooperate in the first session. In the second session he turned his nose up at any kind of treat Mummy could pull out of her magic pockets: liver, chicken, hot dogs, cheese. NIX!!!! He did nothing! Mummy was devastated. For the 3rd session she almost let me out of the car to take his place and make her feel better, but remembered that Diarmuid’s need of practice was the reason for us all spending the whole day at the dog school again. This time she broke up some American treats we got for Christmas into tiny pieces. Bingo! The Brat did the whole course! Aha! He wanted more salt and artificial flavoring! I’ll bet he prefers Wonder Bread to pumpernickel.

After an hour’s break, which we spent walking the country roads, Diarmuid had to prove he was ready to begin agility at the minimum age of 15 months. Incredibly, he did all the “social” stuff correctly, letting other dogs pass by in front of him without lunging at them to play, letting Mummy leave him on one side of a hurdle, walk away to the other side and back. (He’d better! She had him lying with her back turned at 30 yards in the fields for 10 minutes by then.) Then they brought out a tunnel, didn’t even pull it open. The task: step through it. The other 5 did. Diarmuid put on his brakes; no thanks! They put up the A-frame; all the other dogs were willing to walk a few steps up and come back down. Not the Gangster. He shied away from it as if they were asking him to jump the Grand Canyon.

Now Gráinne’s reputation saved the day: Mummy and I had been doing agility and other courses in this canine educational institution for 7 years and I had won 18 trophies at agility trials, not to mention enough ribbons to wallpaper my crate. How could they at dog school say “no” to my little brother, knowing that Diarmuid was adopted in order for him to follow me when I had to give up my agility career? Knowing that Mummy would do anything she could to get him to function. They let him in the course. ;-).

Mummy immediately started Diarmuid’s intensive course of study in Socialization:

1) Daily trips to the next towns, according to where there would be more noise, people and traffic on each day, which he needed to get used to. There she walked him, heeling, up and down the streets to get him used to bikes and baby carriages and ignoring other dogs. They had numerous conversations with passers-by about training dogs while working on keeping him from pulling or shying. Heeling in our quiet village had been too small a challenge. One day, a van stopped next to them in Syke’s Main Street. Two men pulled out a long roll of something and dropped it in the street. Our Viking panicked, pulling his head out of his collar and dashing into the intersection. Luckily, there wasn’t another vehicle in sight and Mummy was able to catch him before one came. Memories of my miraculous survival in Hamburg at half that age, thanks to Daddy.

2) 3-6 times a day “walking the plank”. Daddy took the board off my teeter-totter and laid it on the patio. Mummy led the coward over it on a leash, then off-leash, until he found it fun. (A tube of liverwurst & Quark did the trick.) Then she raised it on all 4 corners by one brick, to make it hollow underneath, like the A-frame. Next, one end was lowered to the ground and the other raised onto 3 bricks to make it slant, like the dog walk. By then Diarmuid was in love with “over” and pushed me off whenever I attempted to claim my teeter board.

3) The “poor” little boy  ;-)  wasn’t allowed to have a single meal without doing the hulahoop. Come through or no meal. First it was jammed in the doorway on the floor until he would step through it, then raised in increments until he was really jumping through it after 5-6 days. Mummy found a smaller hoop and attached it to two poles in the back yard. Duck Tape to the rescue! Diarmuid grabbed the roll of Duck Tape, which is now Perforated Duck Tape. It took the coward longer to learn to step through the big hulahoop in the kitchen doorway than to jump through the smaller one in the yard!

4) Mummy set up a line of weave poles; Diarmuid had to learn zig-zag. That was fine at home but at dog school there is a metal strip on the ground connecting the poles and he balked again for two weeks when he had to cross it. The ninny!

5) The weave poles were turned back into hurdles to get him to do more than one at a time. Finally he was doing a sequence of 5 jumps and the hulahoop “tire”.

Diarmuid was soon also doing most of what was expected of him at agility class.

Then Mummy and Daddy had their Bible Study group here for their summer barbeque so Daddy put the teeter back together to make room. One family brought Momo, Diarmuid’s favourite puppy. They didn’t know about the psychological danger of the teeter and when they led Momo onto it, Diarmuid thought it was his “board” and followed. Oh no! It tipped! The Ninny flew off it in a wide arc. The next week he wouldn’t touch the dog walk at agility class without a leash, the dog walk and the teeter looking the same from our dog perspective. Mummy: what to do? Teeter board back on the patio on bricks. The Coward said “no.” Mummy fetched Gráinne, who was to show Diarmuid how to go over the board. Before I was 1/3 over it, he had pushed me out of the way and the board was HIS again. What would he do without a big sister to bully?

In the last session of Agility 101 Diarmuid jumped the tire and the broad jump, ran over the A-frame and the dog walk, did sequences of hurdles, and even went through tunnels with some extra persuasion. No one would have believed it 6 weeks ago, except Mummy, who turned our backyard and the next towns into a training court. She won’t admit to her doubts. Mummy is a stubborn terrier; she will not give up. Nor will Diarmuid and Gráinne.

I can’t believe she invests so much time and effort in the Brat; but she has also practised Rally-O exercises with ME!!!!!!!!!!  I am not a coward and after Diarmuid’s Rally-O lessons on Friday I have mine; Mummy loves working with me. I’ll do anything she wants just to get a piece of kibble. It would never have occurred to me to be afraid of anything. But I can be a very stubborn terrier when I want to. Mummy and I are of a kind.  ;-))



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