Oscar is the Joey Tribbiani of our dog training class: erstwhile class clown and everyone’s friend; happy to join in anything and help anyone but hates being left out; handsome in a jolly, imperfect way with a real eye for the laydeeez.
Flat coated retrievers are, in general, a jovial bunch with bags of personality and off the top of my head I can think of Monica Flatcoat, Ross Flatcoat, Chandler Flatcoat. But this is not about them.
He’s into da bitches,* is our boy. He has an eye for a pretty face; a flirtatious hip wiggle and silky floppy ears. His head was turned first by Mylie, a large Weimaraner with an attitude problem. All the boys liked her but it turns out that she didn’t like the boys.
Trouble is that Oscar’s generally a bit scared of girls. When he’s out on the town and spots a gorgeous girly, he’s usually too afraid of her telling him off to make the first move. It’s a bit pathetic really, watching his submissive body language and his lack of eye contact. He’s had a long-term crush on our trainer’s fantastic working labrador Cerys, but she’s an intellectual firebrand and can be quite fierce when approached by inferior dogs. Luckily she’s grown quite fond of Oscar and tolerates a reasonable amount of his silly bounciness. I should explain that working labradors are nothing like the barrel-shaped food-Hoovers that normally spring to mind. No. Working labradors are highly-trained coiled springs, always on duty and ready to do their owner’s bidding without question at a moment’s notice.
Today Oscar fell in love big time. As soon as he walked into the (freezing cold) village hall, he caught a whiff of her gorgeous fragrance, and my didn’t she smell lovely! Their noses sniffed across a crowded room and Oscar knew that he’d found the one.
Glas is a young sleek working labrador. She’s only a teenager, really, but she knows exactly what to do in class and is so elegant, and black and racy and glossy. It was love at first sniff for Oscar and he pulled me over to check her out with lots of sniffage at every opportunity he could. But Glas is a trifle timid, especially as this was her first time at this class, and she recoiled at Oscar’s flirtatious licky-kissy advances.
Poor Oscar was smitten, though, and had no concentration for any of the exercises he usually carries off with such pride. He would not wait when asked; he ran in and picked up Lola’s pink dummy instead of his yellow one despite being told not to. At one point I was so exasperated, I threatened him with coming straight home.
Oscar tried harder and harder throughout the class to catch Glas’s attention and win her admiration. Retrieving a tennis ball, which he’d normally hold like setting superglue in his powerful jaws, he dropped it just in front of Glas, perhaps to make her look. I think she noticed. At one point, Maksym went and sniffed her and Oscar drew himself up to his full height, pulled himself (and me) over in Glas’s direction and saw Maksym off. Spring is in the air, it would seem.
And yet. He still loves his mum. Our final exercise was for steadiness. We sat the dogs in a circle and placed ourselves around them, ready to walk in a circle while they carried on sitting steadily – I should explain that some members of our class do training displays from time to time – and some wag suggested we sang Ring o’ Roses. So we all joined hands. Oscar obviously decided he couldn’t bear someone else touching his mum and refused to settle, jealously putting himself between me and everyone else until I placed him back in the circle. Idiot.
* For clarity, I am using this word in its most literal meaning