If there were Cliff Notes for Puppy Class, I would have paid any amount to spare myself these past six Saturdays of hell in which the puppy pulled, prodded, peed, pooped and was a shiny black nightmare at the end of a gnawed leash. I breathe a sigh of resignation. Today it’s finally over. Today is Puppy Class Graduation.
The tried and true strains of “Pomp and Circumstance” crackle over the loud speakers at the Turnpike Mall. It’s the march of the puppies. Applause for the grads. There is a tiny beagle, a roly-poly Golden Retriever, a smart little shelter stray, and The Puppy in all her attitude. “I’m the smartest. I’m the smartest.” She prances to the music, struts her stuff as if she were on the catwalk. Applause crescendos as she is announced. She preens, she glows. This is show biz, baby. Cameras are popping and she is working it.
The sweet girl graduate sports a paper mortar board complete with tassel and I clutch a calligraphic diploma to attest to my torment and to the dog trainer’s infinite patience. The puppy herself is thrilled. “Lookit me! People are taking my picture! I’m famous! Don’t I get presents? Where are they?”
The local ‘big box’ pet store sponsors the classes, a wise marketing move since no doting owner can resist the lure of their sprawling Rawhide Buffet where dyed leather in fanciful shapes is higher priced than my already-snacked-upon boots. Fresh from the graduation parade, the puppy cruises the scene like a drunken sailor at an all-night bar and before I can gracefully withdraw her, she snags a gourmet slipper, a green-striped cat, the ubiquitous fire hydrant, and a ten-dollar piece of leather that can only be described as Abstract Expressionist. My darling has the mouth of a crocodile and knows how to use it. I check to see who’s watching. “Let’s sneak a couple of these back where they belong and buy a nice steak at the market instead. We’ll have a party at home.” Cheaper and at least I may get a bite myself.
“What about cake? There should be cake.”
“Yeah, sure. Cake.” Anything to stop the carnage at the buffet and in my checkbook. I pay my mea culpa respects to the Trainer-Saint and beat a hasty retreat before anyone notices the rather shopworn condition of the rawhide tidbits.
At the supermarket bakery I purchase a half-priced cake upon which the garish frosting letters defy logic and spelling. Since the puppy lacks both, she is delighted. “Read me. What does it say? I like the flowers. It’s beee-u-ti-fool.” A paw is immediately inserted into a rose.
“It says congratulations on your graduation and all good wishes to the puppy.” The message actually celebrates a combined Chanukah and Kwanza birthday with the aforementioned disastrous results. Still, those pink roses prove woefully sweet but tasty.
A pair of Labradors drop by our house to share the festivities. Placid normal dogs, they focus on scoffing up the bits of chuck steak and Milkbones. Cake? Huh? Never having needed behavioral training themselves, they obediently plod home with my neighbor after a few rounds of ball throwing and Frisbee tossing. The puppy is distraught at the early ending to what she sees as a most boring party. She’s beginning to feel the stress of the day and a hissy-fit is brewing. “They didn’t want to do nuffin,” she sniffles. “They’re stupid. They didn’t graduate from nowhere. They didn’t want to see my class photos or nuffin’. Why, oh why? They have fat asses and they can’t do ballet and I need new friends. I wanna move. I wanna. I wanna.” She is hiccupping now and I really feel sorry for her. Ah, glory is so short. She must learn. Let her eat cake.
I allow the puppy another nibble and hide the remainder of the bakery disaster in the freezer for future educational celebrations. Hopefully with more education, less celebration.
“When do I get to graduate again?” Her mortar board is askew and is now decorated with frosting. Her eyes spin, mildly malevolent in a sugar-high. She belches none too decorously.
“In a while. When I can recover.”
Post-graduate classes have been politely suggested. Numerous times.
Causes Mara Buck Supports
Kennebec Valley Humane Society, Amnesty International