Is this retirement? Not quite what I thought it would be. We need a rousing exhortation or at least a comforting mantra – the darkest hour is just before the dawn. Will that do? I would say, if this isn’t the darkest hour, then we’re in for  a very long night. We are not having an easy time with the pups. They’re fighting behind me on the bed as I attempt to write this further ‘blog as therapy’. Problem is they’re no longer puppies but growing snapping and snarling dogs. This has been a bad week and Wednesday saw an incident I am currently too ashamed to write about (by the way no dogs were hurt in this incident). I’m sure it will be funny – eventually, but right now, it’s raw. Literally in one sense as the dog incident led to me injuring my shoulder which, as any person getting on in life will know, is very painful. Still, more of this later, if can bear it.

The main problem, apart from unreliable pooing and peeing, Archie particularly, he doesn’t seem to give a damn, is them rushing up to other dogs to all intents and purpose attacking them and not coming back when called or screamed at. They egg each other on like two naughty children daring each other to greater heights of naughtiness. So far we’ve rather laughed at our foolishness in getting two dogs from the same litter ( I mentioned this before – we read it in the book after we’d got them) but right now our mistake is coming back to haunt us big time. So much so that as puppy school began again last night after the Christmas break, for the first time it was decided to divide and hopefully conquer. My wife took Archie on his own and I stayed at home with Millie. Archie is basically naturally compliant (poos and pees excepted) we reckon whereas Millie is more in the ‘make me’ school of thinking.

The people who run the puppy school think it’s an ‘excellent’ idea to separate them, as do the rest of the group of dog owners. My wife was 5 minutes late getting there (a problem with the new travelling arrangement them now being too big for their travelling cage) and she said she felt, their faces fell when she walked in, albeit with only one pup and the better behaved one at that. It has been suggested that Millie for the next three weeks should attend a different training class. OMG it’s like one of our children has to move school on what we used to call a managed move which is code for permanently excluded. Reportedly Archie still managed to spend quite a bit of time in time out, so no miracles there.

And it doesn’t end there. It has been recommended that they are taken for separate walks to avoid, hopefully, their gang mentality. We plan to try this today if my shoulder holds up. These are not dogs where you want to be dealing with them while you are injured. A person needs to be in top form to handle these pups. So we will see. Alongside the major issues plan there’s all the normal training tasks – lift paw, look at me and, of course, the very nearly major one of walking to heel (another area they are incredibly bad at) that normal dogs have to do. I can’t believe after thirty years of arguing against pathologising children with descriptions and labels that’s exactly what I’m doing with our dogs. Oh, how are the mighty fallen. Physician heal thyself and all that stuff.

Can we continue to say to ourselves – they’re still puppies? I suppose we can they are only 4 and a bit months. I think what is most difficult to cope with is that we aren’t making steady and predictable progress. We think we’ve cracked a particular behaviour and then, like Archie and his peeing and pooing in the house, the behaviour returns. Or a new behaviour, like the ganging up on other dogs, something Millie was once too timid to do, appears on the horizon. It’s easy to lose sight of progress under these circumstances, something else I spent many hours warning teachers and parents against.

They’re asleep on our bed now. pupsThey look beautiful. Perhaps we won’t send them back just yet. As I’ve written before who would have thought that retirement held so many adventures. Where is the boredom I heard so much about?

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