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Apr 13

Human obedience class – listen to your dog

  • Dogs must get so exasperated with humans – we expect them to be obedient, but don’t take nearly enough notice of their instructions.
    I’ve recently attended four human obedience classes and now know that when a dog acts in an unusual fashion I need to respond.
    Lesson One happened when Kate, a smarter-than-average dog, rushed inside, circled the coffee table, danced about and raced outside.
    I idly thought, “How odd.” I’d heard my father-in-law’s vehicle skid as he navigated our steep, rutted drive, but that was no surprise; it presents a challenge to all comers.
    I peered down the drive but could see no problems. Boy, was I ever wrong.
    A few minutes later said father-in-law arrives at the door. After planting his foot on the accelerator instead of the brake he’d rocketed off course, collected the front fence, narrowly missed a concrete strainer, and flown over the small seawall onto the beach. Luckily he only suffered a bruised hand and minor whiplash.
    But I’d learned. The next night I was trimming the grapevine after dinner when Floss trotted across the garden to watch the pet lambs.

    Leads, weeds: both posed problems for Mary Kate.

    As she usually shows little interest in the pair, I idly thought, “How odd” – and followed her. Boy, was I ever right to do that.
    Mary Kate had got tangled in her lead. She was suffocating and on the verge of expiration. I flew through the gate and quickly whipped off her lead.
    The gasping lamb huffed and puffed for ages before she could stand up. Even though her paddock was quickly sheep-proofed, she became most suspicious of me.
    Then, a few evenings later, Floss barked. Nothing unusual about that, except it wasn’t her, ‘humans are approaching’ bark nor was it her ‘pay me some attention’ yap.
    I investigated. Yikes! Turns out it was her ‘forty or so escapee bulls are lunging around on the beach’ bark coupled with her ‘a nervous camper’s cowering in the doorway of the public toilet’ bark. We swung into action.
    Then came fourth time lucky: We were on the beach when Kate stopped dead and assumed the transfixed stare that usually indicates an irritating seabird blithely floating just out of reach.
    As there were no birds around, I looked harder. A pod of dolphins several hundred metres off shore was delivering a spectacular performance complete with leaps, flips and stylish dives.
    It was high time a human obedience lesson yielded something good.

About the author

Rae Roadley

Rae is a journalist, freelance writer and writing tutor. Soon after returning to her hometown to work for Northland's daily newspaper, she met beef and sheep farmer Rex Roadley. He lived in a historic home at Batley on the Kaipara Harbour and after moving there, Rae reported on farming then wrote a newspaper column, The Country Side. Her wryly amusing tales of country life earned many followers and led her to learn more about the local people, past and present. She tells the story of her new life in 'Love at the End of the Road: Finding my heart in the country'.

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