Yesterday was a momentous day in our household. Our five month old Golden Retriever, Emma, graduated from her  “Beginning Puppy” class. I am pretty sure that this was the puppy class equivalent of an alternative, laid-back preschool. The kind of school where you let the kids make the rules and it’s acceptable to  steal the other kids toys because “that’s just the breed.”

Could you imagine if it was like that in real human kid school?  Your kid does something naughty and then they are asked by the teacher  “Wait…what’s your nationality again?  Ooooh…”  I think that would be called discrimination.  However, in the puppy world these things fly. Dogs are held to a whole other standard than humans. It’s a lax life.

We were asked by the instructor on day one of our early morning puppy class  “So, what kind of problems are you all experiencing?”  I  expressed the concern that our dog was too smart for her own furry britches. She anticipates when something is about to happen that she isn’t a fan of (ie. going to her crate, going outside when her humans are inside…etc) and she will run the other way.  We were told by the instructor that “It is VERY rare for dogs to be openly disobedient.”  Uh oh. I looked around at all of the other dogs with their owners.  There was one black dog about Emma’s size that never EVER stopped looking at its owner. Sitting perfectly at attention, waiting for instruction.  I looked at Emma.  She was trying to choke herself out on the leash while barking and slobbering. Of course.  Granted, the woman with the well behaved dog was wearing a very serious fanny pack full of treats. Maybe this was the holy grail of dog training secrets!  The next session I showed up holstered up with a fanny pack full of treats.  This did prove to make things more motivational, but like people dogs have different personalities.  If that well behaved black dog was the high school Mathalete, Emma would be the kid  who is slightly hyperactive and excels in things like finger painting and exuberant dance!  I accept her.  We all have different gifts.   So what if hers is charisma?

After her final class, in a fit of joy and pride, I decided that I wanted to lift up my baby and have a picture taken.  I also learned that I do not have the upper body strength to lift forty pounds of Retriever without pulling out my back.  Whoops.  Lift from the knees.

It’s hard to remember that you need to brace yourself when she looked like this just three short months ago:

Anyway, she did it.  She is a graduate.  She has a very pedestrian looking diploma that has  her name written in with a Sharpie. She learned some life lessons in the process. Growing up is hard.

If Emma had the thumbs or the language to write out a list of what she learned, I think it would go something like this:


Some dogs want to be humped.  Some dogs do not.  Either way, I will hump them.  Preferably their face.  It doesn’t even HAVE to have a face.  I will hump anything.  I have a particularly special relationship going on with the Bay Tree in my backyard.  Hormones are weird.

Want me to do something? TREATS.  I like the wet stuff that makes your hands smell like headcheese.  One time my people put peanut butter on my nose and I pretended that my tongue was not long enough to get it off.  They felt really bad, so they gave me more treats.  Humans are easy.  I also like anything with hot dogs.  Thank you.

I will steal EVERYONE’s toys because I am a Golden Retriever.  That’s what the instructor lady said and I can get away with it.

Sometimes I pee when I get too excited.  It just happens.  It’s embarrassing.  Don’t make a big deal out of it.

When all the other dogs in class are behaving, I will not.  No one likes a follower.

You can try to put a harness on me.  I will escape.  They call me The Great Hound-dini.  I do birthday parties and bat mitzvahs.  Call my people to schedule.

My gums bleed.  I am teething.  Don’t panic.  I might start bleeding openly and all over the floor at times.  It’s cool.  It’s how we do it.

I am a lover, not a fighter…unless that German Shepard tries to steal my toys! Also, one time I killed a lizard. (and, I’d do it again.)

Chomping is my favorite.

I will smell the cat’s butt if it kills me.  I don’t know what will happen after that.  I haven’t gotten that far.

I will kiss you when you’re sad and snuggle you when you’re sick.

I get really excited.  I think you are the best.  All of you.  Every one of you.  Especially if you have TREATS!

OK, so obviously Emma didn’t write that herself.

You get a dog and things get weird.  You start to turn into that person that you previously made fun of.  I love her so much and I can’t hide it.  I would most likely (but, probably not…but maybe) purchase a crew neck sweatshirt featuring her face.  I have effectively written an entire blog post dedicated to, and in the voice of my dog.  It’s weird, but it’s honest.  This is where we are at right now.

If you are still reading this (Mom), thanks for bearing with me.  Also, I will put that sweatshirt on my amazon wish-list.   Christmas is sooner than you think.

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