Dawg and I have been in puppy school for the past few weeks. It’s intense. There are only three puppies in there: Fletch, and a small dog which may actually be a guinea pig, and a very high strung spaniel. They may or may not all strongly resemble their owners; that’s why it’s stressful. You just know everyone is thinking it. Fortunately Fletch is really smart, so
we’re winning he’s doing fine. He already knew “sit” and “leave it” when we started, but now he can also loose-leash walk, and he aced “down,” and sometimes comes when I call him. And y’all. He’ll let me do ear drops now. I have to buckle him into the car, but he’ll let me.
It’s funny, after weeks and weeks of the not sleeping, and the running through the house unspooling the toilet paper like in a commercial, and the constant chewing and nipping and carpet shredding, and the two times I almost sold him to the gypsies for being completely obstreperous, he’s suddenly flipped a switch. He still acts bananas for about five minutes a day, but other than that he’s the ideal dawg. It’s been a while since he’s thought about trying to destroy anything. There’s still some jumping and pulling and leash-chewing going on when he gets excited, and we may kind have gotten kicked out of Fullsteam last week for barking, but we’ll get there. He’s still just a kid.
When we applied for puppy school, I had to write down what I like most about Fletch, and it’s that he just plain loves everyone, everywhere. And he will stare at you until you love him back. Nobody can help it, with That Face and all the tail wagging. The other day a woman came up and asked me, “How long have you had your Vizsla?” I’d had to make her spell it twice, and I looked it up on the spot. Oh. Of course. Vizsla. Hungarian hound. That’s why he’s a redhead. That is so Fletch. He’s half lab, which might make him a Vizslador. That’s fun to say. He has the best of both worlds.
Vizsla is Hungarian for “pointer.” Right on cue, Fletch started pointing this week, front leg cocked, nose in the air, like a cartoon hunting dog. It’s adorable. Vizslas are also known as “velcro dogs,” because they are so attached to their people that they follow you around everywhere. His favorite spot right now is when I am sitting at my telephone stand in the kitchen, and he scootches underneath my legs and camps out there. Vizslas are known for extremely sweet dispositions (check), ridiculously sweet faces (check), paper shredding (check), playfulness (check), being quite vocal (check), being unusually clean (check), and carefully carrying their favorite stuffed animals around (monkey, check). Of course, a lot of that is just what dogs do, period, so who knows if it that’s what he is. I love that I went to his homeland a few weeks ago, though, out of all of the places I could have gone. I wish I’d taken him to Budapest.
We’re graduating this week. Dawg has technically moved from “puppy” into “adolescent.” This makes sense, as he occasionally gets all teenaged on me lately. He’ll sit, every time, but likes to give me lip about it, unless he knows there is a treat in my pocket. If there’s a treat in the vicinity, he’ll sit promptly and earnestly, and maybe throw me a salute, his little ears flopping backwards, saying “Sir yes SIR!”
We were at Sadlack’s last week after my mandatory unemployment meeting, because I knew I’d need some fresh air and the closest patio. I was in the middle of bragging about Fletch being valedictorian of puppy school when he leapt from under the table like a ninja and dove on my hamburger. Chips went flying and scattered themselves into the accumulated pollen on the picnic table. There was lettuce everywhere. The drifters playing darts stopped their game to say, “Whoa!” I put everything back together and out of reach and settled the dog as everyone around me fell over laughing, but realized that I was missing half of my hamburger bun. I looked on the ground, and under the bench, and then at Fletch.
So, okay. We’re not quite there yet. But he’s still pretty great.
In fact, he’s exactly the dawg I needed. Exactly.