Training With Wolfie
By Karen Singer
Chapter 3 – Part 1 of 2
Brian got lucky the next day, he got called to substitute for a teacher in the fourth grade. In some ways, Brian considered the fourth grade to be the worst! Unless, of course you were talking about any of the grades higher than that, especially the classes in the high school. So overall, fourth grade wasn’t really too bad at all…although it wasn’t very good either.
As so often happened, the class started off okay, but the longer the day continued, the worse things seemed to get, until by afternoon, he was doing nothing but trying to keep the kids in their seats and trying to make them behave. He kept glancing at the clock wishing time would go faster so he could get out of there. Even putting up with the silly way that Mrs. Murphy was treating him lately would be better than the way these kids were acting. No respect! Mrs. Murphy was certainly right about that. But it wasn’t his fault. He blamed it solely on their parents – all of them!
He was actually glad to get back home again after school. After parking his car, he walked back up to his mailbox to check for mail. He was pleased to pull out several pieces of junk mail…at least it was something.
His phone rang shortly after he got back into his house.
“I see you’re back,” Rosa’s voice came over the line. “How was school?”
“Ugh! Don’t ask!” Brian complained.
“The kids were nasty again?”
“What do you think? They’re always nasty. They laugh at me, and they’re mean, and…”
“I told you before, you just let them walk all over you.”
“No I don’t!” Brian replied. “It’s their parents! They don’t teach the kids anything at all about respect! None of them!”
“I seriously doubt it’s the parents if the problem is with all of them,” Rosa said. Then she changed the subject. “Wolfie is waiting for you to play again, Brian. Hurry up!”
Before Brian could say another word, the phone line went dead. More playing with Wolf. That was good…. And lately, that was very bad.
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Rosa was in her swing and Wolf was wandering around the big backyard by the time Brian finally came out. It had rained earlier in the day and the ground was still wet. The clouds in the sky threatened to bring more rain at any time. The grass was becoming longer and thicker from the rain and the warmer spring weather. Brian let himself into the backyard while Wolf jumped playfully all over him. He waved briefly at Rosa on the porch and ran through the wet yard toward the big tree they often played around. Rosa let them play for a while before calling them both back to the porch. Wolf, as usual, got there very fast. “Sit!” she ordered her big dog the minute he reached the top of the steps. Brian was far behind, but she gave the same command to him too the moment he too reached the top of the steps. Brian was kind of expecting it, and he sat down on the porch floor right where she pointed.
Rosa smiled, he had already learned something. “Good boy,” she crooned happily.
After the long miserable day with the kids, something in Brian actually allowed itself to feel pleased that he had managed to do something right. The way he felt right then, any kind words were welcome.
Rosa knelt down in front of Wolf. “Shake,” she said as she held up her hand. Wolf put his big paw up and she shook it up and down a few times before dropping it again. “Speak!” she ordered. And the big dog barked. “Good boy,” she crooned as she fed him a treat.
Then she moved over in front of Brian. “Shake,” she repeated as she had done with Wolf. Brian put his hand out the way she wanted him to and let her shake it up and down. “Speak!” she commanded. He barked almost automatically. He didn’t even think about refusing the treat that she put into his mouth. “Good boy,” she crooned again. And again Brian felt fairly pleased.
“Now go play again,” she ordered. But as Brian started to get up, she stopped him. “Brian, she said suddenly. He looked up at her. “While you’re out there today, please limit yourself to only sounds a dog would make. I don’t want to hear you talking like a human anymore today.”
Brian was totally surprised. “But why?”
“Because I said so…and because starting right now, every time I hear you make any kind of noise that Wolfie can’t, I’m going to punish you.”
Brian was shocked! “Punish me! How? Why?”
Rosa’s face immediately looked stern. “Those are not sounds a dog would make!” she replied angrily. “Now you wait right there!”
Quickly, she headed into the house. She had intended on finding one of the riding crops she used to use when she had been a professional dominatrix, but as she passed through the kitchen, her eyes fell instead on the newspaper she had been reading earlier. She stopped and stared at it for a moment. That was what she had used to punish and train Wolf when he was just a puppy. That was what she had always heard you should use on a puppy. The paper wouldn’t hurt him, but the noise it made would scare him more than anything else. She grabbed a section of the newspaper and was rolling it into a tight tube as she quickly went back out to the porch. Fortunately, Brian was still sitting right where he was. Without pausing in the least, she went right up to him and brought the rolled up newspaper down on his shoulders. “No more talking like a human,” she intoned angrily as she brought the paper down on his cowering form over and over again. “Dog sounds only!”
Brian didn’t know what was going on. But he certainly didn’t like getting hit with her newspaper. It hurt…sort of. But mostly, she was scaring him. “Why?” he asked as her newspaper continued to attack him.
“Why, is not a noise a dog can make,” Rosa replied angrily as she continued to hit him. Rosa could see that what she was doing was having the desired effect. “Remember, only dog sounds!” she ordered again as she reigned a few more swats at his body. Then she started hitting his side. “Now go out and play!” Her newspaper drove him in the direction of the stairs.
Brian hurried down the steps to get away from her as quickly as possible. Wolf was right there, watching them both carefully. The big dog barked repeatedly, but he didn’t know if he should be barking at Brian, or at Rosa for hitting him, so he just mostly barked repeatedly and tried to figure out what was going on. Brian too was trying to figure out what was going on. Only dog sounds? No human sounds? Why? It made no sense! But one thing he knew for sure, he was now more afraid of his landlord than ever!
Not making any human sounds was actually easy. He didn’t say anything at all as he ran and roughhoused with Wolf! But before long, the skies suddenly opened up and the rain began pouring down. Wolf barely seemed to notice, but Brian started running for the porch and as usual, Wolf followed.
“Whew! It’s really coming down,” Rosa noted as he quickly ran up the steps.
“Yeah!” Brian agreed, slightly out of breath as he reached the top of the stairs. But before he knew it, she was on him, swatting him with her newspaper again.
“Only dog sound! I told you that before! Obviously you still haven’t learned!” She swatted him twice more, then finally stopped.
Brian crumbled to the floor, cowering in fear and confusion. Now what was he supposed to do? It was raining. He couldn’t play with Wolf very well. And he really just wanted to go home.
Rosa looked out at the rain with disappointment. She had wanted to continue to work with Brian just a little bit more today, but the rain was spoiling things. She could always bring him into the house for a while, but she was afraid that it would quickly lead to things she didn’t quite want to get into with him yet. Unfortunately, she finally realized that her best bet would be to end their play…and his training for the day. She turned to him. “You might as well go home now,” she told him. “It looks like this rain is going to last for the rest of the day.”
Brian gratefully got to his feet again and said nothing.
“Tomorrow is Saturday,” Rosa said. “No school. I’ll call you in the morning to come play with Wolf again. Be ready early.”
Brian chanced his question one more time, and it was asked rather mournfully. “Why?”
But Rosa had been ready for just such a response from him. Very quickly again, she began swatting him with her newspaper. “You just don’t learn, do you! No more human noises. Dog sounds only! Now get out of here until tomorrow. We’ll continue with more then.” She stopped hitting him and watched as he ran like a scared jackrabbit toward the gate. Wolf, not sure what was going on, barked at him until he was out of sight.
At home, Brian tried his best to sort it all out…and failed. More tomorrow? After being hit by her so much today, he wasn’t looking forward to it!
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The next day started out very cloudy, but the weather forecast didn’t call for any more rain. It had however rained most of the night, leaving everything very soaked. It was only nine o’clock when Brian’s phone rang. He was just finishing his breakfast cereal.
“Wolfie’s waiting,” Rosa’s voice said the moment he picked his phone up.
Brian immediately went into a small panic. “But…”
Don’t give me any excuses. “I’ll see you here immediately!” Rosa quickly hung up the phone. In cases like this, it was always better to not give them any chance to argue.
Brian hung up his phone and took a deep breath. He really didn’t want to do it, but he was too afraid of her. He slowly made his way out his back door and into her backyard. She was just coming out with Wolf as he went slowly through her gate. The big dog started barking and ran to him the moment he saw him. Instead of running into the backyard like he usually did, Brian walked.
Rosa watched as he started across the yard, Wolfie bounding around his feet. “Brian,” she called. “Come here a minute.”
Brian wasn’t exactly in the mood for another dog treat, or for barking or having his “paw” shaken, but he also never once thought about not doing as he was told. So he headed for her porch. He didn’t have to climb it though as she started talking as soon as he got close.
“Don’t forget what we discussed just before you left yesterday,” Rosa cautioned in a no-nonsense voice as if she was giving him a stern warning. But then, her words were meant as a warning.
Brian was shocked. “You mean, no talking?”
Rosa had her rolled up newspaper close by for just such an occurrence. In a flash, she was hurrying down the steps right at him. Before he knew what was happening, she was hitting him with it and yelling at him. “I told you, only dog sounds from now on…and that’s all I ever want to hear out of you!” She hit him one more time for good measure, then stopped. “I can see we’re going to have to work on just that today!” Then, before he could react, she turned around and walked back up the steps away from him.
Brian couldn’t believe it, she actually wanted him to keep making only dog sounds…whatever than meant. And was it for all day today? Or was it only for just a little while? And what did that have to do with training Wolf? So far, it was more like she was training him!
Rosa sat in her swing and watched them playing for a bit, but her mind was really on what she could do to enforce the concept in him to only use dog sounds. She needed to come up with some kind of exercises for him. But what? Then her phone rang again and she had to go inside to answer it.
“Good morning, Rosa,” Connie’s voice came over the line.
“Connie,” Rosa returned. “How are you?”
“Just wondering how your little ‘project’ is coming along.”
“Why don’t you stop by today and see for yourself?”
“You mean you’re still at it? He hasn’t stopped it yet?”
“Not yet. He still hasn’t figured out how. And from what I’m seeing, it looks like he never will!”
“You’re kidding! No sign of him protesting yet?”
“Very little. And when he does, it takes very little effort on my part to squash him.”
“I don’t know if I should feel sorry for the little guy or if he’s just getting what he deserves!”
“Maybe a little of both,” Rosa suggested. “So, will I see you later?”
“How about just before lunch. Will that be okay?”
“Perfect!” Rosa declared.
Rosa watched Brian and Wolf in the backyard for a little while more before calling them both back up to the porch. Wolf, as usual, got there way ahead of Brian. “Sit!” she ordered the big dog and she watched as Wolf parked himself right where she wanted him. “Sit!” she commanded Brian as she pointed to another spot across from Wolf where the two could see each other. Brian sat down on the floor where she pointed. “I don’t hear you making any noises,” she said to Brian. Brian just shrugged his shoulders, afraid to make any kind of human noise at all. Rosa was actually glad because otherwise she would have to hit him again, and she had other things on her mind just then.
She knelt down on the porch floor between the two where they both could see her. Her box of dog treats was close at hand. She looked at Wolf. “Speak!” she commanded. The big dog barked. “Shake,” she said kindly. Wolfie held up his paw and she shook it a few times. Then she reached into her treat box and gave him one, which the dog loved!
Then it was Brian’s turn. “Speak!” she commanded. Feeling foolish, but having been through this many times already, Brian barked like a dog. “Shake,” Rosa said in a kinder voice, and Brian held out his “paw” which she shook a few times. Then she reached into her treat box and brought one out. But instead of putting in into his mouth like she usually did, she held it in her open palm in front of his head. She waited for him to take it, but he made no movement. He only looked confused. “Take it!” she ordered.
Brian hesitated. Take it? But she usually gave it to him! She usually put it into his mouth for him!
“Take it…” she coaxed again, her voice still kind, but with a touch of sternness.
Brian started to reach up with his hand toward it, but Rosa immediately saw what he was doing and let out a short angry hiss. He moved his hand away quickly. She was still staring at him…still holding out the treat for him to take. Feeling more foolish than ever, he lowered his head to her hand and used only his mouth to take the treat from her.
“Good dog,” she crooned happily, and actually pet his head for a moment.
While Brian liked being praised, he wasn’t too sure about it this time.
Rosa moved back away from Brian to where she had been, between both Wolf and Brian again. She looked directly at Wolf and held her hand out flat, palm down. “Down…” she commanded, dragging the word out just a little as she lowered her hand toward the floor. Wolf did nothing but sit and stare at her. She looked over toward Brian. “I’ve always had trouble getting him to do this one,” she commented briefly before turning back toward her dog. She again repeated the command along with lowering her outstretched hand. But again, Wolf just sat there. “Wolfie!” she said sternly. Then in a much nicer, but firm voice, she repeated. “Down…” again drawing the word out while lowering her hand. Finally Wolf laid down and put his head down on his front legs. “Good boy,” she crooned happily. She went over and pet Wolf and scratched behind his ears. Then she fed him another treat. The minute Wolf got his treat though, he started to get up. “No!” she commanded sharply. “Stay!” Wolf sunk back down to his lying down position. “Good boy,” Rosa said.
Then she turned to Brian. “Okay, let’s show him how this is done. Down…” she said to Brian as she lowered her hand like she had down for Wolf. Confused, Brian tried to figure out exactly what he was supposed to do. And how was he supposed to ask if she wouldn’t let him? So he tried just laying down on his stomach. “Good boy,” Rosa praised. But then she moved over to him and grabbed both of his arms and pulled them out straight and brought them next to each other. “Front legs go this way,” she explained. “That way, you can put your head down on top of them too if you want. Like Wolfie over there.” Brian looked and saw Wolf still had his head down on his front legs, but he was looking straight at them. He tried it. He lowered his chin to rest on his arms. But not being built like a dog, his head sank partially between his arms.
“Close enough,” Rosa commented. “Good boy,” she praised. Then she reached into her box and pulled out another treat which she held up out in front of him again. Brian had to lift his head up and stretch his neck to get the treat. “Good boy,” she repeated. Then she turned back to Wolf. “Sit!” she commanded. Wolf got all the way to his feet, stretched for a moment, then settled back into a sitting position. “Good enough,” she commented. She looked over at Brian, “Sit!” she commanded. This one was easier and Brian levered his body up to a sitting position.
Rosa looked at him. “We’ll work more on that position later. You look awful sitting like that.”
Brian didn’t know what she wanted him to do, but he did know he wasn’t looking forward to finding out.
Rosa turned back to Wolf and repeated the down exercise. Again, the big dog was reluctant, but after the second repetition of the command, he again laid down. Then it was Brian’s turn. “Down…” she repeated like she had done before. This time, Brian knew what she wanted and immediately got into position. “See,” Rosa said to Wolf as she moved over to Brian and started petting his head. “That’s how it’s supposed to be done!” Rosa gave Brian another treat before moving away from them both and standing up. “Good boys,” she crooned happily. “Now go play again.”
As Brian got to his feet, he thought he was starting to understand. Rosa was trying to use him as an example to show Wolf how to do things. Even though so far, he was the one who was learning from Wolf. At least, he hoped that was what was going on.