Published on November 24, 2007
This is Champ, the golden retriever I wrote about a few weeks ago. The operation to open his jaws, clamped tight by a bone overgrowth, was successful. Although he canít open his jaws all the way, heís learned to push that tennis ball against the ground to
I've been given permission to bring her, as long as I keep her on a leash.
Wan is well trained, but only when we're alone. She knows how to behave, as she's demonstrated time and again when I've walked her on her leash around the house, but outside, where dogs and people attract her attention, all the lessons go out the window. She wants to greet anything that moves. She's a bit too brash perhaps, but, luckily, a bit on the small size.
Also in her favour is that she doesn't bite.
I've also trained her not to jump up on people. She's so small, she barely makes it to a person's knees, but the point is for her to learn courtesy. She knows courtesy, but people seem so taken with the little dog that they encourage all the jumping about. Those lessons end up forgotten too.
As we sit in an outside restaurant at the hotel, Wan dozing under a chair, a lady and her very young daughter amble by. The child sees the dog and giggles.
Suddenly, Wan is wide awake. She absolutely loves kids. She pulls frantically at the firmly anchored leash. Unable to reach the child, she whimpers and whines. She's flat on her belly, her stubby tail zipping back and forth.
The mother sits down with friends, and as they become engrossed in conversation, the child decides to play with the dog. On unsteady feet, she toddles over to Wan. The mother turns to watch. I'm watching too, waiting to see what will happen.
A few days ago, another mother with another daughter dropped by my house for a chat. Wan immediately tried to charm the child, using all the whimpers and whines at her command.
This child was afraid. Perhaps at her home, dogs are used for guarding, not for playing. Perhaps the kid didn't know how to handle new and strange experiences.
The mother just laughed. "Don't be afraid," she told the child. I turned to put Wan in her cage, when suddenly the kid figured out what to do. She raised her hand as if to strike the dog, and waved it menacingly near the dog's head.
Wan froze. Raised in a loving atmosphere, she had never experienced aggression from a human before. She shrank back for a second and advanced again. This time the child stamped her foot and yelled, "Go away!" Crestfallen and confused, Wan lay down nearby.
The kid smiled proudly. Mama smiled proudly: her kid, the animal trainer. The girl never actually struck Wan, but I was left bemused. Surely, there are better lessons to teach a child about animals.
In the hotel restaurant, the young child advances on Wan, screaming happily. I'm ready for anything that might happen. Her mama comes over, smiling but on guard.
But luckily, neither of us needs to worry. The kid lets out a giggle and pats Wan on the head. The dog responds by rolling over for a belly rub. Everyone relaxes.
By Laurie rosenthal