The Report Card

As parents, we all dread the bad Report Card filled with low marks and lots of red ink.

Lucy is in “the dog house”, both literally and figuratively.  I recently received a Behavior Report from the dog resort in Wales, aptly named The Dog House, where Lucy was on holiday for the past two weeks.

It was not good.

Her Report Card resembled that of the girls with a familiar matrix of disciplines and grades.  The ratings were along a 1-5 scale:

1  Poor

2  Beginning to Understand

3  OK but inconsistent

4  Good

5  Excellent

To further emphasize failure, the abysmal ratings 1 – 3 were highlighted in bright pink marker.  Suffice it to say that Lucy was “in the pink”.

These observations are priceless:

Rating 2  Walking on a loose lead: Lucy has never merely walked, she has always forcefully and enthusiastically run on a leash.  As the report noted, “Lucy pulled on the lead like a freight train!”  So true.  I can’t tell you how many people stop, roll down their windows, and ask me with a smirk, “Who’s taking who on a walk?!” when they see Lucy out front pulling me along down the street as I pant behind her trying to keep up!  Long ago, I gave up trying to break this behavior and decided I could use the exercise any way.

Rating 2 Door/gateway:  Lucy “barged dangerously through doorways and gateways upon arrival.”  She is always the first one through a door.  The girls like to play a game where they try to block her and gain entrance first, usually with limited success.  I’m not sure why this is dangerous, but it can be annoying.  Most of her enthusiasm comes from her desire to get to the kitchen to either claim a neglected morsel of food from the table or wait for a treat upon arrival.

Rating 1 Games: Lucy is “unsure” how to play both “tug” and “retrieval” games.  As they noted, Lucy will chase an object, “but rarely picks it up“.  This is because Lucy learned early on that it is ridiculous to play these games when she could be lolling about having someone bring things to her.  She is actually quite clever.  I was scolded as well because I have not done a good job with “toy management“.  Whatever!

Rating 1 Behavior with livestock:  This is a classic.  They exposed Lu to horses, sheep, chickens, ducks, geese, doves, etc.  Two things happened.  First, she went mad chasing the birds as I know well from experience.  I can only imagine the scene with Lucy getting that rabid look in her eyes as she takes off at mach speed.  Second, she was “rather keen to eat horse, pig, and sheep poop“.  You can’t make this stuff up!

Stealing:  Speaking of eating, we all know that Lucy does love to steal food when possible and is quite an adept thief.  To solve this issue, I was told to set up “booby traps” in the areas where this occurs.  My Barbie kitchen is small enough without placing traps in it.  This sounds rather barbaric to me.  I think I’ll just continue to close and lock the kitchen door after eating meals.  Problem solved with fringe benefit of reducing human snacking.

All this aside, Lucy did earn one top rating in the Behavior with Other Dogs category.  I am proud to say that she was “very polite to other residents throughout her stay and keenly joined group activities”.  Despite her many weaknesses, she was surprisingly deemed a “fantastic role model for some of the younger puppies”.  Her report card ended with the following sentiment: “A real pleasure to meet such a wonderful character”.

We all know the familiar adage, You can’t teach an old dog new tricks.

But Lu knows the best trick of all — she gets along well with others, has friends, and is socially well adjusted.

Isn’t that ultimately what every parent really wants?

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