Bisou has two trainers, and that\’s about ten too few, since she could use a trainer for every waking hour of her day. As it happens, both of Bisou\’s trainers have also worked with Wolfie, one in obedience and one in herding. Bisou is studying neither obedience nor herding, but agility, in hopes that she will learn to pay attention to me while she uses up some energy running through tunnels and leaping over jumps.
In the past few weeks, both trainers had taken me aside and said: \”Don\’t tolerate anything from her that you wouldn\’t tolerate from Wolfie. If you don\’t watch out, she\’s going to run your life. Just because she\’s little and cute doesn\’t mean she doesn\’t need discipline.\”
They are right. When Wolfie was seven months old he was so big that every time he wouldn\’t lie down the minute I asked him to I would go into alarm mode: omigod, this dog is turning into a monster, this is dominant behavior, if I don\’t do something someday he\’ll start growling at me. And right then and there I would give him a short but brisk obedience lesson.
With Bisou, it\’s a different story. And it would be a different story even if she were as big as Wolfie, because of the temperament difference in the breeds. For instance, I\’ve always had to work hard to get my German Shepherd puppies to make eye contact with me, because by nature they are oriented outward, to watch the flock and scare off wolves. Whenever Wolfie, who is quite a cuddly dog, lies down by me, he can be pressed against my body, but his head is turned away, scanning the horizon for malefactors. Bisou, on the other hand, gave me full eye contact from the first day I had her, and when she and I lie down for a nap she drapes her head sweetly over my arm, and falls asleep facing me.
Still, I have watched dozens of TV programs featuring pathetic people who have turned their small dogs into babies who in turn have taken to terrorizing the household. I know that, despite her floppy ears, Bisou is a kind of wolf. I know that next spring, if she happens to find a nest of baby rabbits, she will murder every single one without a second thought. I know that she needs discipline, and I believe I give it to her.
But clearly her two trainers are seeing something that I\’m missing. Maybe she is pulling the wool over my eyes…Achtung, Bisou! A new era is about to begin.