Chapter 38 
(June 2011):

Diarmuid wins a ribbon!

The dreaded 5th of September 2010 approached like a high-speed train. For a year Mummy had been working on the various requirements for Diarmuid’s Begleithundepruefung – an obedience test obligatory for participation in agility trials - for example: gradually, by 10-second increments, building up the lie-stay at 30 meters with her back turned, from 10 seconds to 10 minutes. By August he could do it.   Or not.   Mostly he stayed but when she turned around, he was frequently sitting up, staring or laughing at her. Hmmm. The judge might only take off 5 points for sitting instead of lying. (I lost all 10 points for my dance routine, remember chapter 25?)  Heeling slow and fast, ignoring people, dropping, waiting, turning, coming … , all things Diarmuid didn’t see a lot of use for but Mummy insisted on. It was a battle of the wills.

Whose will will win?

Most of the obedience routine - 10 minutes of various “heel” exercises on and off leash -  was under control, but daily the last weeks, Mummy bundled Diarmuid into the car and took him to colleagues’ in the next village to use their backyard soccer field to practice on. 10, 20, 40 steps, left and right turns, around turns behind Mummy’s back, figure 8s through a group of people, slow, fast, and the impossible drop on command while handler doesn’t break pace: once sitting and once lying. No commands (except “sit “ or “lie”), no signals allowed, no chatting, no touching. Having learned her lesson with me, Mummy calculated a loss of 5 points for each of the drop exercises if she hesitated and made sure he really dropped. If he followed her, it would be minus 10 each. Minus 15 points and you fail. Even terriers can do enough math to know that this
wouldn’t work. The next exam is a year later and our club, the DOGGELS, had made an exception for Diarmuid and organized the test, hired a judge, though Mummy was the only official DOGGEL among the candidates. She couldn’t let them down.

Oh yeah, there was the part in town, too. Forgot to practice that until the last minute. Up and down the streets, willing the Brat not to lunge at every bush and pole (no fire hydrants around here, but you know what I mean) and to ignore bikes, skaters and other dogs. Ignoring is not Diarmuid’s specialty; nor are baby carriages. One also has to tie the dog up and disappear around a building while another dog is led past. He must not lunge or make a scene. Nobody had ever failed that part of the test before, but there’s always a first time and the Gangster was unpredictable. When Mummy leaves the house, he’s always in a tither and often howls when she deserts us.

For the exam Mummy and Diarmuid paired up with another team from our dog school: Janina with her Sheltie Goya. By this time Mummy was calling Janina’s two dogs “Perfect Shelties”, as they never did anything wrong. “I love my Shelties”, said their mummy. Mummy was thinking about giving Diarmuid away.

September 5th couldn’t be avoided; it arrived. Diarmuid couldn’t heel at all that morning. At the dog school Mummy realized she had forgotten Diarmuid’s vaccination records with his chip number for identification. Home again and back, giving her less time to pace and be nervous. It was time to start and they were first. They could have used a Dixieland band playing a funeral dirge, as they slunk onto the field.

Diarmuid was laid down at the back end of the field while Goya showed his routine. Mummy stood 30 steps away, willing the Brat to stay down. In the next field there was a tractor which was loud enough to cover up Mummy’s “Good boy”, “Stay”, “Lie” under her breath without moving her lips. Her nearly silent ventriloquist skills – or willpower - must have worked: Diarmuid lay perfectly peaceful until she returned to him, hooked on his leash and said, Up”.  

Then the teams switched and Diarmuid did the figures and turns and drops, after which the two teams had to approach the judge for the verdict. “How do you think it went?” asked the judge. Mummy hesitated and then guessed they might have passed but barely. “No,” said the judge. “It wasn’t close at all. Congratulations!”  There were a few spectators from the dog school and trainer Horst was with the judge. They all said Diarmuid had done a great job and he was the talk of the club for months! Who would have expected it from “The Brat”? 

Mummy and Diarmuid were at the head of the line for Part 3 in town, with the two females in heat at the end of the group. It all went fine until the group stopped to do slalom around each other. One whiff during the slalom and Diarmuid did the rest of the walk backwards. The judge must have realized that allowing bitches in heat to distract the boys was a no-no, so she passed Diarmuid in the town part, too.

Diarmuid has a ribbon on his crate and a sticker in his achievement records! Mummy was proud as a peacock. Until the next episode.



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