As we all know it is important to take young puppies out and about for socialisation and habituation – you know, getting used to all kinds of people; tall ones, fat ones, black ones, white ones, (am I allowed to say that?) children, people with hats, people with glasses, with walking sticks, people wearing helmets, with umbrellas, prams (oops showing my age) – buggies. Not to mention other animals; dogs, cats, horses, etc... And all the things that they will encounter in their adult lives; cars, lorries and busses, steps, street-lights, car lights, planes, motor-bikes and bicycles, - all the sights and sounds of the city and those of the countryside too.
Taking The Golden Wonder into town suddenly changed a quick trip to the bank into a day out! First of all I need to do the preparation, I carefully cook and dice best beef and chicken (I want him to enjoy the experience). Check his tiny collar is secure, and put his little crate into the car. Take newspaper, towels and wipes in case he is sick (or worse) in the car. Finally I am ready –oops nearly forgot the bank book –that was the reason for going into town wasn’t it! An hour and a half later I am ready.
My drive into town was uneventful. I always think that is the best description for a good journey, ‘uneventful’. Events are things one wants to avoid when travelling. Eventful journeys include delays, detours, accidents and breakdowns, or screaming kids or sick puppies. I like ‘uneventful’ journeys.
The town is now very puppy friendly as ‘they’ have made it a pedestrian zone. I park up and carry my precious Golden bundle into the shopping area.
Did I tell you he is really gorgeous? The prettiest puppy you have ever seen. Well I now have my opinion endorsed. The world and his wife mobbed us. They loved him. I could not take two steps without being surrounded by people wanting to pet him. The street buskers were envious as The Golden Wonder took centre stage. Everyone wanted to know how old he was, what breed he was – ‘they had not seen a Border Collie that colour before!’ what was his name, where did I get him from, how much did he cost!
And so the questions kept coming, the same ones over and over as more people crammed round. I mused as I listened to strangers telling newcomers to the crowd the answers I had just given them. There was no doubt about it, I was holding a celebrity.
When I finally got into the bank a bank clerk left her desk and approached me. By now I was flustered as it had taken me so long to actually get here and now it looked as though I was going to be asked to leave. I had noticed the sign saying ‘No Dogs’ on the door, but I thought no-one would mind as I was carrying him. It was not as though he was going to cock his leg on the furniture was it! But none of it, much to my relief and surprise she asked if she could hold the puppy whilst I did my banking! We were definitely celeb status!
The Golden Wonder was introduced to all the cashiers and petted by everyone in the queue – which was getting longer whilst all this went on. But nobody seemed to worry, they were all enthralled by the Golden Wonder.
I know the whole point of taking the puppy out was to socialise him, but I had not reckoned on doing quite that much in one day. By the time we got home the day was gone and both he and I were exhausted.
Over the following weeks every trip out was the same. I know we are supposed to be a nation of pet lovers, but this was ridiculous. For as long as I could carry him the rigmarole was repeated every week as I went to the bank. It got to the stage that I was becoming concerned for his safety. The questions about how much did he cost, where could they buy one the same and where did I live (none of which I ever answered) were repeated with such frequency I began to worry he might be stolen. I have never had so many people repeat the saying, "don’t take your eyes off him or I will have him."
In the beginning I was openly telling them that his mother was a black and white show border collie and that she was shipped out to Australia to be mated to a dog carrying this colour gene. They were so interested to hear all about him. However this only increased the queries about his value.
Around this time I started having nightmares about him being stolen, so I decided to change tack and lie!
...Well I am not good at lying - so I just misled them a little. I said his mother was an ordinary black and white border collie and we were guessing what the father was. This I thought would at least stop potential dog thieves thinking he was worth stealing for breeding purposes. They would think he was just a crossbreed.
You might be wondering what effect all this attention has had on his development. Well he is convinced that he is the only reason people come to our house. He screams for attention and jumps up at visitors like a disobedient pet dog – not like any dog of mine! And of course he is far too important to be shut in a crate...
Does anyone know a good dog trainer?