Our children named this puppy Boomer. I had no idea how appropriate that name would be as it seems that almost everywhere he goes, he is followed shortly after with a loud, thud, crash, or ... yes, you guessed it, boom. The bull in a china shop model of behavior has made my children prophets in their name selection.
Having owned the former champion of World’s Worst Dog, we recognized early on that we had a new contender when we brought this puppy home. Early symptoms included using our dining room floor as a bathroom, using the toilet in the bathroom as his water bowl, using the children’s favorite stuffed animals as chew toys and using any nearby child as a launch pad. We immediately enrolled him in obedience classes. That phone call went something like this:
“Yes, we’d like to enroll our puppy in obedience classes.”
The kind gentleman on the other end of the line replied, “OK, how old is the puppy?”
“About 8 weeks old.”
The surprised trainer responded, “Oh, well we won’t work with dogs younger than 14 weeks.”
“He’ll be a felon by the time he is 14 weeks.”
Despite our pleas, we were required to wait for the 14-week mark which only gave us enough time to confirm he was a leading candidate as the new title holder.
To our dismay, the rascal was the best dog in his class. In fairness, he was one of only three dogs, but still. He followed every command, seemed to learn quickly and was simply obedient. When he got home, that behavior went out the window and our title contender returned. So I realized one of two things was happening. First, he is a diabolical manipulator, acting one way in front of strangers to make a good impression, only to terrorize our family behind closed doors. Or we, as a family, were not properly supervising him in our home. That dog is diabolical!
After conferencing with the trainer, he suggested that we use the training lead on the dog inside the house, to supervise him more closely and more easily offer corrections. Once again, this diabolical genius immediately went into good-behavior mode. My wife needed an opportunity to correct him so she walked him by all the children’s toys, only to have him completely ignore each one, strutting obediently by her side. Finally, she knew the temptation that would force his misbehavior ... the toilet. She led him toward the bathroom in an effort to entice the unwanted behavior, only to see him hit the brakes and refuse to go in. My wife tugged on the lead to try and get him to follow, to no avail.
Imagine this scene. When I walk in, I find my wife attempting to force our puppy’s head into the toilet, yelling “Drink the water!” and the puppy resisting with all his might. In fairness to my wife, these last two sentences are not true, but they may as well be, because as long as that training lead was on that puppy, he refused to commit puppy sin. So our answer to the newest title-holder of World’s Worst Dog? We’ll leave that training lead on him forever.
(Editor’s Note: Matt has a family of six — a beautiful, pregnant wife, a son, a daughter and of course, the family dogs — Tucker, and, walking around with the training lead, Boomer. Matt’s column will now appear every other week in the Wednesday edition of the Cleveland Daily Banner.)