In the evening, when the chickens are locked in for the night, the goats have been milked and fed, and the big dogs are stretched out on the rugs (no fire in the stove yet, but that\’s coming), Bisou gets her lapdog training session.
During the day, as I\’m able to, I give her short lessons on leash-walking, on paying attention (make eye contact and you get a treat), on coming when called (do so and you get another treat). I teach her basic vocabulary: come, sit, inside, outside, do your business, leave it (my fingers, the lavender bush), take it (as I throw a ball), give (as she brings it back but hangs on to it), good girl! (whenever I catch her doing something not bad).
All this is a lot of work, and Bisou is doing as well as a twelve-week-old puppy can be expected to do. But in the evenings, during lapdog training, she really shines.
In fact, we\’re doing lapdog training right now—complicated by the fact that my lap isn\’t quite able to hold both a lapdog and a laptop. But Bisou, true to her ancient lineage, snuggles against my body, under the poncho that my mother crocheted for me in 1972, groans, then relaxes.
She is in her element. In days of yore, Cavaliers were known as “Comfort Spaniels,” or “Spaniels Gentle.” In the daytime, as Bisou charges around on her short legs, delivering death bites to the dried-out stalks of long-gone tiger lilies, she is my red-haired Maenad, my holy terror. But when the sun goes down she is all warmth and silky fur and big brown eyes, a spaniel gentle if I ever saw one.