Anyone know what a play bow is?
What about a prey bow?
Or a whale eye?
I can now say I’m in possession of these answers, thanks to Caroline Short and Puppy School 101. Our puppy Fitzi started five weeks ago and, I’ll tell you, it’s been fascinating.
This, of course, because he’s the meanest student in the class.
It all started on the first day when Caroline told us we would put our puppies in a pen to “socialize.” This is one of the major reasons why you start training school when puppies are so young — so they can get used to being around other dogs. Since I am a shy person, I was fully on board with this approach, thinking that I might have benefited from such a training myself.
So, picture it. All of us parents — moms and dads, Caroline insists — are there for the first time. We gently exchange names and pleasantries and are looking forward to watching our babies play. We crowd around the pen with our phones, expecting to take adorable videos and photos we’ll pass on to our families. I’m pretty sure we’re all wearing clothes in pastel shades.
There is a golden doodle named Berkeley. A gorgeous Great Pyrenees named Willow, whose owners, it turns out, live just down the street from us. And there is one of those fuzzy, tiny dogs that has the word “toy” and “poo” in its breed name.
So Caroline opens the pen and the other parents release their pups. They start sniffing, licking, pawing gently at each other.
I gingerly open Fitzi’s crate, which I’d packed full of comforting toys, teething chews and blankets. I fully expect a little hesitation. Even a heartbreaking amount of shaking.
Then out pops Fitz-Bitz.
You know how in Westerns the bad guy walks through the swinging doors of the saloon wearing a squint, cowboy hat and dusty chaps and everything stops for just a second? And then, shortly thereafter, everyone starts popping each other with fists and bullets? Yeah, that’s basically what happened when Fitzgerald stepped into the pen.
Turns out, my dog really likes, umm, biting throats? He also really likes jumping up into faces with his mouth open? And nipping bums. He loves that.
So my husband William, who had come directly from work and was still wearing his three-piece suit, stood there as our dog, well, ate the other dogs. I stood there in my lipstick and lavender cardigan subtly pressing the stop button on the video I had started taking.
“Woah, Fitzi,” Caroline said, stepping in and grabbing him by the harness. “Woah, baby.”
Then, as Fitz roiled and lurched in her hands, she looked over at William and I.
“I see you’ve got a terrier on your hands,” she said. “They’re famous for being tenacious.”
I looked at her wearing an uncomfortable face emoji.
The other parents looked at me wearing uncomfortable face emojis.
Fitzi continued to try to blast away at the pups in the pen.
Five weeks later, we’re still working on Fitzi’s, umm, level of determination.
Caroline has reassured us he’s not quite as violent as he looks. And my sister-in-law Jennie has sent me videos of her two puppies basically gnawing away at each other to reassure me we’re not the only ones with a feisty little monster on our hands.
In the meantime, I’ve learned some interesting jargon. A play bow is when your dog’s front elbows are on the ground in front of him and his bum is up. In doggy language, it basically means, “Will you play with me?”
Luckily, Fitzi performs a lot of play bows.
A prey bow is the same as a play bow but the elbows aren’t on the ground, and means, “Leave me alone or else.”
Fitzi receives a lot of prey bows.
And a whale eye is when a dog gives a sideways glance so forcefully, you can see the whites of his eyes. It, too, is meant as a warning signal.
Fitzi still receives a lot of whalies too.
However, lest you think we are the worst parents in the world, he is doing exceptionally well in the training department.
Coming next week: The click and the treat.