“Get your elbows off the table!” my mother scolded. She was always after us kids to mind our P’s and Q’s, reminding us to say “please”, “thank you”, and “yes, Sir”. Dinners were lessons in the napkin goes on the left, the glass in the upper right corner, spoon to the right of the knife facing inwards towards the plate. Reprimands of “don’t chew with your mouth open” and “don’t talk with your mouth full” were dispersed between the meal’s conversation. My mom was big on manners. Over and over and over mother would admonish our unbecoming behavior.
The lectures didn’t come to a stop when one by one, we matured into adults. They just took a different slant. “Take your feet off the furniture!” she would chastise my sisters and I when we would come to visit. As the grandbabies started arriving, we were chided for our language, “not in front of the kids” mom would caution as a swear word slipped out of our mouths. I have no doubt we caused her many embarrassing moments with our inappropriate, or lack of, etiquette. “You just wait until you have kids!” was mother’s final reproach to us.
My past regressions are coming to haunt me, cause now Malcolm and I have kids, or rather dogs (same thing). And talk about embarrassing!
Tiamo was so good, so well-behaved, Malc and I just assumed her good manners would rub off on the pups. Tiamo never begged or whined when company was over. Tiamo never mis-behaved while out in public. We had worked hard in her training, repeating commands, rewarding her good behavior. She sat, she came, she heeled. She stayed, she stayed off the bed and she stayed close to our side when walking. She was damn near perfect!
When the puppies were born, we morphed from a family of three to a fledgling football team of eleven. Overnight. Spring Training consisted of performing head-counts twice a day to be sure we still had our team intact. On a sunny day, we exercised the puppies in the pen. On a cold day, they ran amok in the house. We held on tightly to the belief that when the puppies were traded to their new home-camp, they would receive the proper training. That, once we were down to Mama, Amore and Dolce we would get to work on their end-game.
However, once we were down to just Tiamo, Amore and Dolce training halted. Came to a complete stop, occasionally back pedaling. The coaches had thrown in the towel.
Don’t get me wrong, we tried. We tried really hard. With treats, Amore and Dolce learned how to sit. With arms of steel, a heavy ballast, and treats in our pockets, they learned to walk by our sides. With a whistle and a treat in hand, they learned to come… well, mostly come…. okay, sometimes they come, sometimes they don’t, mostly they don’t. Everything else we tried was useless. We tried the STAY command. The DOWN command. The OFF command. The HERE and WALK. The pat on the thigh, the out-stretched hand, the hand-held up and out. We tried the clicker. We tried separating them with individual workout sessions. We paid for trainers, enrolled in behavior classes. I tried to mimic my mother’s stern voice. I tried the full name reprimand including the middle name like my mother when she was upset with us. Nothing worked.
My famous saying to Malcolm was, “when the girls turn 6 months”, they’ll be better with their manners. They just need time, they are still puppies. That turned into “when Amore and Dolce are a year old”, they’ll be more mature, better able to handle the training. They needed to grow out of their puppy stage. That turned into “let’s wait until the puppies are around 18 months” before we expect to a see difference. Then, I pushed the time frame out further. “Maybe when they are 3 years old”, Amore and Dolce will be better mannered, more behaved.
They turn six years old in a month. They only know “sit”, “down” and “off” and not very well at that. And Amore still picks her nose.