You are NOT the boss of me: A lesson in defiance

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Posted: Monday, July 7, 2014 9:30 am | Updated: 3:51 pm, Tue Sep 2, 2014.

She just doesn't understand. My (un)sweet chocolate lab, Ella refuses to obey. I picked her, feed her and take her on walks...but who are we kidding, she runs the house. 

Ella is brilliant, beautiful and boundless. I love those things about her, but independent and defiant are her most vibrant personality traits. I don't want to change who she is, I just want her to come when I call. Is that too much to ask? 

This was put on display during her second week at obedience school. Ella is full lab...not only indicated by her AKC registration (Eleanor Rigby IVX), but by her love of swimming. So, we picked Such a Good Dog to help get our crew on the right track. Truth be told, I thought Lela would be the more difficult dog to train, but I digress. 

After a bit of traditional training...sit, down, stay, Ella got to jump in the pool. No stopping her. This was want she was waiting for all class. I'm not going to lie, she was pretty precious swimming around in the water. She's also fast and incredibly mobile. After her turn was over, the other dogs in class got to give the pool a try. Ella was whiny about waiting for another chance. 

"Ask her for a sit, down, sit and then let her get in. The pool can be her reward." 

Sounds like a simple request from the trainer. Think.Again. 

Ella took one look at the pool and knew what she wanted. I asked for the sit. Nothing. Waited. Asked again. Still nothing. Nonplussed, we backed her up. Offered a treat. Still the dog's amber eyes were fixed on the water and she wouldn't budge. 

Yep, she showed off all right. Showed how little anything I want means to her. 

We walked away. Came back to the pool steps and tried again. Still nothing. Ella wasn't going to give me anything. She wanted to swim and that was all there was to it. I was of no concern to her. An exercise in futility concluded. The lure of her prize not enough of an impetus to give in. 

Long story short. She didn't get any more swimming that night, and now, our daily routines take much longer. Ella is required to do something for me to get anything now. Water? Sit. Car ride? Down. Dinner? Wait. 

Time is a luxury and I'm in debt with this one. But we will persevere. I will win.

To say I'm solicitous about how my capricious canine will behave when we venture past our front door is an understatement. We are a work in progress, but progress none-the-less.

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