My puppy Brutus graduated from Puppy group last Saturday, he did if I say so myself, do exceptionally well and won the sniffing contest and had to sniff out food under cones and got to eat everything that he found. Well I dont call him Brutus ‘the breakfast boy’ for nothing. (he does a breakfast dance every morning)
Anyway, all the dogs were chatting except for the staffie, she hadnt turned up for the last day. The dogs were all moaning about how cold it was, how some of them were tired and could have easily stayed in bed, one of them – the tatty terrier had his own jacket on which Brutus was jealous of, although why I do not know as he eats everything I give him and no doubt he would eat his jacket had he been wearing it.
‘She won’t get her certificate’ Jackie the border collie whispered to Shadow the retriever who nodded in agreement.
‘Does that mean she is not a good girl?’ Brutus asked, his forehead creased with worry, in fact Brutus always looked worried – life in general made Brutus worry, as did the thought of a food shortage.
‘Oh she is a good girl I am sure, but perhaps her owners were busy or something’ Jackie reassured Brutus and then licked his genitals while he cleaned round her mouth in return. Personally I would not have allowed it as I know where Brutus’s mouth has been and it usually involves Gordons butt and more lately, the litter tray – need I say any more!
‘Shhh, it’s started’ Shadow said in his firm retriever voice. You see all dogs have their own voice – be it a mongrel voice, a whippet voice, a kelpie voice, a mixed breed voice or in Brutus’s case, a bloody big deep voice.
Puppy group was good fun as we all had to put our dogs through an obstacle course – Jackie was first and then Brutus was second.
Jackie did a stirling and somewhat perfect job of sitting in the hoop, weaving in and out of the cones and laying down in the cones for 10 seconds.
‘Go on Jackie, you can do this!’ Shadow and the small tatty terriers yelled from the sidelines.
‘Go on, run yer tits off!’ Brutus shouted in his deep voice that sounded like a big fierce dog and not a six month old puppy.
‘Brutus don’t be so rude!’ Shadow said in his firm voice, trying to be grown up as he was the biggest of the group.
Brutus blushed at his reprimand and then before he knew it, it was his turn to do the course.
‘Go on Brutus, you can nail this, you’ve got this!’ Tatty terrier shouted in his tatty voice.
‘Go on Brutus, you can do it!’ Jackie the border collie shouted. She really did have a crush on him and it would be rather marvellous if he did well. Perhaps they could get a job together on a farm and herd sheep, she would like that and although you wouldn’t think it, Brutus is rather good at herding, his inner Ridgeback has frequent battles with his inner kelpie and he often finds himself herding everything (including me) and then wanting to bring it down like the lions in Africa – which is what Ridgebacks were originally bred for.
Brutus swallowed nervously and took his place and we were given the command to do the course.
‘Sit in the circle’ The dog trainer instructed and Brutus dutifully sat down trembling in the circle like a good boy.
‘Weave in and out of the cones’ She ordered and we went in and out of the cones.
‘Drop for ten seconds’ She ordered and Brutus dropped although the treat in my hand made lying on the cold wet grass for ten seconds a lot easier.
‘Go on Brutus!’ his pals all yelled from the side, even the magpies who were watching from the trees were shouting ‘Go on my son!’ and clapping their wings. It was rather nice that the local birds had got involved with supporting the dogs, they were a regular group that watched the class in the hope of treats that fell on the floor.
When all the dogs had finished, we did the sniffing contest where treats were hidden under the cones and each dog had to race one another as to who could sniff out the treats and get to the end.
‘I will be good at this, I can sniff out dead bodies and the food inside them’ Brutus said dramatically.
‘Bollocks can you’ Shadow snorted with laughter and even the magpies on the sidelines sniggered.
‘It’s the hound in me you see, I am half ridgeback’ Brutus said and then added ‘I have the best of both worlds, I sniff, I hunt and I herd it up and I eat it and I can shit like a man’
‘Off you go Turd Legs’ Tatty terrier yelled to Brutus, who had earned the name ‘Turd Legs’ long ago when he had that episode of shitting the bed and slipping in his own turd in the garden and more recently, eating Gordons turd from the litter tray and justifying it on the grounds that it was ‘cat nuggets’.
Almost trance like, Brutus snorted along the floor and with an uncanny speed, snouted out the treats from each cone and before the others had barely started, Brutus stood proudly at the end smacking his chops which are so crumpled, he looked like an old man with no teeth, chewing a toffee.
‘I am so going to get diarrhoea for this’ He yelled proudly, he did as well, his stomach is that sensitive but as he had been a good boy, a bit of diarrhoea in return for treats could be overlooked – just this once, a bit like eating chocolate when you know it will make you sick.
‘Good boy!’ Jackie shouted proudly and then blushed as everyone looked at her.
After that we did another game called ‘Simon Says’ involving obedience commands so you get the general picture and Rocky was rather good at it and came third I think (not sure).
‘Bollocks!’ tatty terrier yelled as he was eliminated and then shouted ‘I was robbed’
By the end of it, Brutus got sent off because he was too tired to sit quickly or do anything quickly and the only thing he could do quickly was say ‘fuck it, I have had enough, I am hungry and tired’ – never mind the fact he had stuffed his face all morning with puppy chow and treats.
And before we knew it, the class was over and our prizes were handed out, Brutus got a Dentastix chew for coming first in the sniffing contest, he got a bonio for the obstacle course and a dog biscuit for the ‘Simon Says’ – all of which could give him the shits so it was decided to share the treats with Rocky – much to Brutus’s protests as he believes that all food belongs to him.
‘Give us a bit of that dog biscuit’ One of the magpies yelled from the branch. He was quite a tough magpie and wore a leather jacket and carried a flick knife, he was a formidable enemy and Brutus was rather scared. However, come between Brutus and his food and that was another matter.
‘Fuck off, I ain’t sharing’ Brutus hissed back and tatty terrier giggled at Brutus’s bravery.
‘Just you wait till breeding season Turd Legs, I am gonna swoop you’ Magpie replied and then crapped – just missing Brutus’s head. I believed him too as I have been swooped by magpies when I used to ride my electric bike to work and could regularly be seen cycling down the road at 40km an hour with my bike on full power as I tried to dodge magpies, I may have even been shouting ‘Piss off you bastards’ as I did so.
We all stood up to receive the certificates of graduation, the boy dogs puffed out their chests and smoothed their ears out, you could see them standing so proud, all ready to graduate. Those that had beards cleaned them, the girls checked their teeth and ears – it was so sweet, you should have seen them all trying to straighten themselves out and smarten themselves up.
‘Don’t we throw our hats in the air like they do at Uni?’ Shadow asked – the other dogs laughed.
‘I don’t have a hat’ Brutus whispered to me looking worried.
‘You don’t need a hat to throw Brutus, this is not a degree you are getting’ I comforted him as his little head creased again with worry. I hadn’t seen him look that worried since Rocky pissed on his head the other week.
‘You can throw your collar – I dare you’ Jackie suggested and then giggled as the other tatty terrier snorted with laughter. The other dogs then all got excited about throwing their collars in the air until someone said that was not allowed as their leash was attached.
So the certificates were handed out with the dogs names on them – each dog examined their certificate and they were all unusually quiet as though they couldnt quite believe they were all officially ‘good dogs’.
‘Are you crying Brutus?’ Shadow asked sternly and then gave Brutus a friendly poke.
Brutus bit his lip and stood up and said ‘No, don’t be daft’. (he is such a liar, he was crying because I saw him.
Brutus gets his certificate of graduation
Even the magpies were nodding proudly, acknowledging the puppies and their achievement.
‘Will I see you again?’ Jackie whispered to Brutus as we all said goodbye to one another.
‘Not sure, I hope so’ Brutus’s little brown face stared at Jackies black and white one. She really was the star pupil of the class and I am sure will have her own flock of sheep one day.
‘Call me!’ Jackie mouthed to Brutus and did a phone impression as he got in the car.
It was a subdued puppy that I drove home that day, despite getting his certificate and winning prizes for both himself and Rocky, he loved his puppy group and would miss it, and I had no doubts about his attraction for Jackie.
‘Mum?’ Brutus asked as we were about halfway home.
‘Yes Brutus?’ I asked him – canine question time again!
‘Can I go back for the intermediate puppy group?’ Brutus asked hopefully. He had grand plans for agility and everything!
Just as I was looking forward to getting my Saturday mornings back, I sighed and replied ‘Maybe Brutus, maybe’.
‘Mum?’ Brutus asked again.
Staring at him through my rear view mirror ‘Yes Brutus?’ I said.
‘Am I a good dog now that I have been to school?’ Brutus asked with his forehead all creased up.
Thinking of the past week where he had dug up a small section of $7,000 worth of fake lawn, eaten cat shit, pulled Abdel’s shirt off the line and stolen my knickers, the answer was debatable.
But then on the other side of the coin, he had started life out as a critically sick puppy, fought back from gastro, weighed little more than 7kgs when he came out of hospital and had fought back, attended and completed his course at puppy group.
He could now sit, drop, stay, shake hands, herd up the cat and myself, barks like a bastard to protect the garden, has a heart of gold, loves his family and his cuddles, adores Gordon (and cleaning his arse and eating cat shit).
He is six months old, he is an adolescent, he is pushing the boundaries with Rocky who duffs him up on a daily basis to put him in his place. He is not naughty, he is a normal healthy puppy doing normally puppy things.
He greets us when we get home, he sleeps quietly in his crate when it is required of him.
‘Mum?’ Brutus asked impatiently, ‘Am I a good boy now?’
‘Yes Brutus, you are officially a good boy’ I smiled proudly at him.
And with that, Brutus curled up happily on the back seat and went to sleep.
Brutus loves his puppy group
He is a good boy, he is our boy, he is my little Turd Legs, he is my eating machine, my kangaroo dog – he can jump 6 foot, he can dig a 2 foot hole he can chew, and he ‘talks’ like any good hound can.
Brutus sings the song of his people
Brutus – my dog and my very own good boy and yep, what is a bit of fake lawn anyway.
Samantha Rose (C) Copyright June 2013