At first, she did pretty well with her mini-training sessions, as if she were trying to let us know that we made the right decision by adopting her. She already knew “sit,” she picked up “down” and “come” with ease, and we even taught her to “play dead.” Over time, however, let’s just say she’s developed selective hearing. Now, when we tell her to “come,” there’s a 50-50 chance she’ll remain draped across her couch wearing a defiant grin that says, “I’m really comfortable, and judging by the tone of your voice, I’m not too sure that you really need me to come right now.” In fact, I’ve recently read somewhere that with greyhounds, it’s all about your tone. If you don’t mean it, they can tell and will act accordingly. Check.
To backtrack a little here… Izzy isn’t a bad dog by any stretch of the imagination. In fact, she’s probably the calmest dog I’ve ever been around. But her selective hearing combined with a few other bad habits (her lack of self-control on walks, her whining, etc.) has led us to one conclusion: it’s time for obedience lessons. After all, I’m pregnant (surprise to those of you who didn’t know!), and the last thing I want to deal with when the baby comes is a surly dog sulking in the background. So after asking around, we settled on a training program, Taming the Wild Side in Aledo, Texas.
I have to admit, I went into it the first lesson believing Izzy would be the star pupil. The room was full of mostly puppies or adolescents with their gawky bodies and too-long legs. Piece of cake, I thought. Izzy’s gonna show these youngsters how it’s done.
Boy was I wrong. Star pupil? She was the last one to master each exercise, if she mastered it at all. Mostly, she just stood around, watching the other dogs and panting. We walked away with a long list of homework assignments for the week, discouraged by Izzy’s apparent ADD and lack of progress. Fast forward one week to Lesson #2... I’m happy to say that she did better, earning compliments from the instructor and a few other owners. But let’s remember that she was starting at rock bottom; after last week’s performance, she had nowhere to go but up.
I’m sure there are a lot of things that we as dog owners do wrong to contribute to Izzy’s stubbornness. Cesar Milan would probably say we’re not asserting ourselves as the pack leaders; he’d come in and do a little magic wave with his magic hands and utter a single word, and BOOM!, she’d be transformed into a calm, submissive state… forever. Or Victoria Stillwell would arrive on our doorstep with her 50 different types of treats, spend an afternoon cooing and feeding Izzy warm chicken bits, and she’d leave us with a different dog. Still, I think there’s something to be said for breed and personality. I have a feeling that what we’re mostly dealing with here is your good old-fashioned case of stubbornness.
After two obedience lessons, I’ve come to the conclusion that Izzy will never win the title of National Obedience Champion, and I don’t know that she’d make a great therapy dog like I once thought. But hopefully, with a little more patience and work, we’ll crack that stubborn streak, just a little bit, making her that much more of an amazing companion.