Chapter 3 The Obedience Class
When Marley was six months old, Dr. Jay, the animal doctor, told us about an obedience class.
We loved Marley very much, but he wasn’t an obedient dog. Every day he go bigger and stronger, and he didn’t listen to us. He jumped up on us. He grabbed things in the house and chewed them. When I bought flowers for Jenny, Marley ate them.
We met the teacher of the obedience class. She had a cold face and she didn’t smile.
“There are no bad dogs,” she said, “but there are some very weak people.”
The class was every Tuesday evening. We put Marley into the car and drove to the first class. When Marley saw the other dogs, he got very excited. A party! He jumped out of the car. I ran after him, but I couldn’t catch him. Marley sniffed every dog before I caught his leash.
“Take that dog back to his place in the line,” said the teacher. “Who is going to be his boss —- you or our wife?” said the teacher.
“I am,” I said.
“Me, too,” said Jenny.
“No,” said the teacher. “A dog can only have one boss.”
“OK,” said Jenny. “I’ll do it.”
The other dogs sat quietly in a line. Jenny took Marley to his place. I stood and watched.
Suddenly, Marley saw another dog at the end of the line. That dog looked interesting! He started to pull Jenny. She tried to stop him, but she couldn’t. Marley was stronger than Jenny, so he pulled her to the other dog. Then he sniffed around it.
“The dog thinks he’s the boss,” said the teacher coldly.
She started to teach the class “Sit!” and “Down!”
“Sit!” Jenny told Marley. But Marley didn’t want to sit. He jumped up and put his paws on Jenny.
After the class, the teacher said, “You have to be strong with that animal. You’re the boss. Show him that.”
When we got home, Jenny said, “You can take Marley to the class next week.”
The next Tuesday, Marley and I went back to the class. Jenny stayed at home. In the car, I said to Marley, “I’m the boss! You’re not the boss —- I’m the boss! Do you understand?” But Marley only looked at me and wagged his tail. Then he tried to chew my hands.
In this lesson, the dogs had to walk quietly next o us. It was very important lesson for Marley. When he went for a walk with Jenny and me, he always pulled us. The teacher gave us chains.
“Put the chain over your dong’s head.” She said. “When he pulls you, pull him back with it. It will hurt him, so he’ll stop pulling.”
I tried put the chain over Marley’s head but Marley, of course, got very excited. A new game! He grabbed the chain with his teeth. I tried again, but each time, Marley grabbed it.
In the end, I got the chain over Marley’s head and started to walk with him. When Marley pulled in front of me, I pulled him back with the chain. But then he pulled away again.
“Here,” said the teacher. “I’ll show you.”
She took Marley’s leash and stared to walk with him. Marley pulled the chain, and the teacher pulled him back. But then Marley pulled the chain again. This new game was great!
Then Marley saw me. He started to run to me and he pulled the teacher after him. She was very angry.
After class, the teacher said, “Your dog isn’t ready for this class. He’s too young. You can bring him ack in six or eight months.”
“Are you telling us that we have to leave the class?” I said.
“That’s right,” she said. “You have to leave.”
Because Marley couldn’t go back to the class, I started to teach him at home. But it was difficult. Marley wasn’t a fast learner.
We had another problem with Marley. In Florida, there were often thunderstorms. Marley was afraid of loud noises. He wet crazy in a storm. He broke things and made everything dirty.
After each storm, Marley quickly forgot about it. He was happy again and wanted to play. But in the next storm, the same thing happened. He was afraid, so he went crazy again.
We talked to Dr. Jay about the problem. Dr. Jay was young and he understood dogs very well.
“What can we do?” we asked. “When Marley gets crazy, he breaks things. One day, he’ll get hurt in a storm.”
“Marley is seven months old,” said Dr. Jay. “I’ll neuter him. Then he won’t get so excited. He’ll be a quieter, happier dong.”
I thought about that. “Oh,” I said.” I don’t really know ….”
“Yes!” said Jenny. “That’s a great idea!”
“Bring Marley here on our way to work,” said Dr. Jay. “It doesn’t take long. He’ll be ready by the afternoon. You can get him again on your way home.”
A week later, we took Marley to Dr. Jay. Marley ran from the house and jumped into the far. He was very happy. He loved go out with Jenny and me —- his two best friends.
Jenny drove and I sat next to her with Marley. He pushed at the window with his nose. He wanted to sniff outside the car. I opened the window and Marley put his nose outside.
“I feel sorry for Marley,” I said to Jenny. Then I looked at him. His front paws were out of the window.
“John,” said Jenny, “what’s Marley doing? Please be careful.”
“He’s fine,” I said. “He only wants to put his head outside.”
Marley put his head out of the window. Then suddenly, he pushed his front legs out, too. He tried to jump down on the road. But the road was very busy with cars.
“John!” shouted Jenny. “Hold him!”
Jenny tried to stop the car, but she couldn’t. the other cars drove around us very fast. It was very dangerous. Now Marley’s front paws were down on the road. He ran next to the car. I grabbed him by his tail and Jenny stopped the car.
“Now what?” I shouted.
I couldn’t pull Marley back into the car. I couldn’t open the door. I couldn’t get my other arm out. And there were cars all around us. The other drivers looked us angrily.
Jenny opened her door and got out of the car. She ran around it and grabbed Marley. I opened my door and got out, too. In the end, we got Marley back into the car.
When we got to Dr. Jay’s, I took Marley inside. He sniffed everywhere, then he pushed over a table with magazines on it.
I gave Marley’s leash to Dr. Jay.
“Please neuter him as quickly as possible,” I said. “Please.”
That evening, when I took excited and crazy. He moved quietly and slowly
“Good,” I thought.