It’s been funny, and maybe a bit startling to realize so much about my personality as we train our puppy. Apparently, it’s going to take more than a 3 hour puppy orientation for me to figure this little creature out. After sifting through several books, last night I cracked open How to Raise the Perfect Dog by Cesar Milan and I felt like he was speaking to my oblivious soul. He says things like “Think of your puppy as an animal first, then a dog, then the breed.” Or, “These are the senses you should engage as you communicate with your dog, first nose, next eyes, last ears.” We’ve already been over that but the reminder was nice. One of the concepts that struck me the most was his assertion that I should exude calm assertiveness. I think he may have just changed my life. I can manage calm and I can manage assertive but rarely do the two traits find themselves weaved together in the moments of my day. I realized that I could probably improve the quality of my life and my mothering by fostering that kind of energy so I decided to give it a go. I informed Ritchie that from here on out, calm assertiveness is to be the watchword for our puppy communication. That was just before I went to bed, having set my alarm for 5:30 to seize the morning with a brisk training walk.
As I carefully crept out of bed this morning and made my way into the adjoining bathroom to dawn my carefully-prepared walking clothes, I felt a new excitement and confidence swelling up in me. A few moments later I took a deep breath and repeated the words “calmly assertive” in my head and opened the door to Cassie’s crate. She began walking out so I deftly scooped her up and pulled her close. Then she began yelping. I tugged harder, she yelped louder, scrambled and shifted around. I sensed that she was scared and stuck so naturally I shrieked and fumbled toward the nightstand to turn on the light. It was at that point that Ritchie, in one fluid, barely awake motion, sprang across and out of bed, knocking me to the floor in his efforts to reach our crying dog. When the light came on and Jessica groggily wondered what was happening, we discovered that Cassie’s leg was caught just to the left of the crate door. During her attempts to extricate herself, she’d emptied her bladder all over our bedroom carpet. Thankfully, upon examination, all of her hind leg bones appeared to be intact. Apparently calm assertiveness takes some practice. I have high hopes for tomorrow.