I have to assume that Laurel is trying to keep our dog up with Rico, the really smart German border collie who knows the names of 200 objects and has language skills comparable to a young child.
Otherwise, why would she suddenly engage in a frenzy of obedience training today with Serena, the most recent (and still very much ringing in my ears) example being a 45-minute walk in the Metolius River countryside punctuated by virtually non-stop calls of “Serena, closer!” “Serena, no!” “Serena, heel!” “Serena, stay!”—depending on what out of control behavior Serena was exhibiting at the moment.
Laurel and I have different dog control standards, which makes me thankful that we’ve never had any children together. I suspect that, if we had, early on I would have been banned from going anywhere alone with the little tyke(s)—unless I was accompanied by a responsible adult, me not falling into that category.
Yesterday we got to Camp Sherman well after sunset, and Serena needed some exercise. I jumped on my mountain bike while Laurel was cleaning up the cabin and rode down a gravel road, then on a trail through the ever-darkening woods, and back on the road to the cabin. Serena ran along happily with me, and sometimes she ran along happily without me. But I always had at least a vague shadowy idea of where the family dog was when she was off checking out a deer or squirrel smell.
“Where did you go?” Laurel asked when I got back. “On a bike ride with Serena,” I replied. “Did you take a leash, a whistle, a flashlight, and her training collar?” “Um, no, I forgot.” I got the Jackie Gleason look I remember so well from the “Honeymooners”: Next time, Brian, you’re going right to the moon! But with no physical clenched fist. Just the mental version.
I probably am too casual with Serena on walks. But we both have been. On walks we’re always amazed to encounter other people who have a dog actually walking along with them. Usually Serena is only in our immediate vicinity during a few nano-seconds when geometric necessity demands that she race by us in the course of the frenzied, manic, “there’s a fresh smell just ahead!” circles she traces around us as we walk placidly along.
Well, not so placidly now, given the near-constant canine control calls Laurel has started to utter. She’s trying to reduce the radius of Serena’s racing from the current fifty yards to a dot in the distance, to what seems to me a wildly unrealistic fifty feet or so. I wish Laurel luck. She’ll need it, because as soon as I take Serena out for a walk by myself, all that training is going to start to unwind.
I figure that since Laurel never had any children of her own, she might as well get a taste of what child-rearing with a husband is like. Ah, I have so many fond memories of coming home from an outing with my daughter and overhearing the conversation in the kitchen as Celeste excitedly told her mother about her day. When I heard “Your father let you do what?! Where is he?!” I knew it was time to get my innocent face on.
Luckily, dogs can’t talk. Even Rico. And if Laurel somehow succeeds in training Serena to communicate what goes on during our man-dog walks together, I’ve got a few chew stick bribes up my sleeve that should quash any tattle-taleing. “Woof! Brian had me on the leash the whole time. He didn’t let me chase anything. Our walk was so boring. Woof! Can I go play now.” Good dog, Serena.