In The News
« back to In The News
Adventures in Dog Training - Part One of Seven (a series)
He was adorable. "Like a stuffed animal," friends told us. This darling, eight-week-old ball of fluff bounced into our lives last March. Cosmo - the name he came with - was to be our son's Lassie. That is, a faithful, calm, quiet, dignified companion who slept at the foot of his bed, and rescued him from any and all boyhood mayhem he could dream up.
Hmmph. Life, of course, is not like the movies. While we did our best to socialize Cosmo - nightly walks to Razzleberry’s, countless trips to the dog park, visits to the Greenmarket — our training was, to put it charitably, haphazard. It included, for example, feeding him almost an entire bag of treats (“Sit, Cosmo!”) while on a conference call just to stop him from barking.
In addition, George, our 11-year-old, simply could not comprehend the cause and effect of his actions (“Stop using your SpongeBob blanket as a bullfighting cape, George! Cosmo DOES NOT LIKE THAT.” “George, he will BITE SOMEONE one day if you do not stop that!”).
That day, of course, came. A few months after Cosmo’s first birthday, he bit 88-year-old Grandma. On the leg. Thank goodness the Grandma he bit was George’s grandma, because in Florida, land of litigation, this could easily have sent us to court. And this was not Cosmo’s only act of aggression. The week before, he was ejected from a Hollywood dog park. If you can think of something more embarrassing than being kicked out of a dog park for your dog’s misbehavior, please let us know, because we can’t think of anything.
These two events, of course, combined to create the last straw. We threw ourselves on the mercies of Atlantic, since they know Cosmo well and, we expected, could point us in the direction of a trusted and effective trainer.
Enter Jason Wester, Regional Training Director for Canine Dimensions. We called Jason with our tale of woe, and agreed to sign up for his six-month program, which began with a two and a half hour introductory session in our home.
Jason arrived at the appointed time, with his laptop and PowerPoint presentation ready (this is a dog trainer for the new millenium). After spending some time with Cosmo, and observing his behavior as well as ours, he began our training (and, really, as we all know, the humans must be trained as well as the dog) and showed us the PowerPoint. Even George, who as an 11-year-old boy has a less than stellar attention span, sat rapt at the images of dogs who are Stepford-like in their behavior. “Wow,” we thought. “Is that even possible?”
After the presentation, Jason continued to work with us and Cosmo. It was, to say the least, not pretty. Suffice it to say that blood was drawn. “No worries,” Jason said cheerfully as we looked on in horror. “It’s all part of the job.”
After another 30 minutes or so, we could see that yes, there is light at the end of the tunnel. Armed with a workbook and instructions from Jason on what to do, we earnestly began the business of Lassie-fying Cosmo.
Next month: We go on vacation and Cosmo spends a week at boot camp. Stay tuned.