About That Time My Puppy Threatened To Flunk Obedience School

About that time my puppy almost flunked out of obedience school.

It’s that performance anxiety dream.

The one where you’re in class and you haven’t done all the work.

You’re not going to graduate.

You’ll be the laughing stock of the class.

You’ve had that dream, Dear Reader?

The good part is when you wake up realizing this was just a dream.

Everything is fine.

Oh, were it so.

That was no dream.

That was my real life.

My real puppy.

The real final exam at puppy obedience school.

I apologize for leaving you hanging, Dear Reader.

Some weeks ago, I shared my fear that my puppy would not graduate obedience school.

How we’d missed the last class because of my daughter’s high school graduation.

Let me take you to that final day.

Which, to be honest.

Wasn’t pretty.

I slowly exhaled as Pup sat, healed, came on command.

My puppy, Butter, singled out in obedience school to see if she would heel.

My puppy, Butter, singled out in obedience school to see if she would heel. Little did she know there were no extra points for looking cute at the teacher.


The lesson we missed the previous week?

The teacher showed me how to drag a treat in front of Pup’s nose until her little elbows touched the ground.

“Good down, Butter!” Teacher exclaimed, in the spirit of celebrating each dog’s victory.

I thought we were good.


“Time to show off who knows the most tricks!” Teacher enthusiastically announced.

I looked around the room.

Every other human sat up straight in their chair.

So ready to show off.

Like their kid was going to steal the kid talent show.

I looked down at Butter.

“Tricks? Who knew we were supposed to have a trick?” I panicked.

I went through her repertoire of tricks.

Shredding a roll of toilet paper in 12 seconds flat.

Losing her mind at the sight of a squirrel.

And her best?

The way she is so excited to see everyone.

Every dog.

Every person.

Her tail wags so hard that her entire back half swings side to side.

She cries with such joy at each reunion, as if each person has been gone at war for 40 years.

Never mind that she just saw them yesterday.

Or never before.

Is it the most adorable thing you’ve ever seen?


Is a trick?

Not even close.

“Yep. We got nothing.”

She rubbed her floppy left ear against my shin, as if to say, “It’s going to be fine, Mom.”

The Pekingese went first showing she could roll over.

The Great White Pyrenees shook hands and gave a high five.

The pit bull had so many tricks, he stole the show.

Teacher cut his mom off at six.

Oh, Butter?

“We got nothing,” I shrugged.

“Time for diplomas!” Teacher announced, diverting attention from having saved worst for last.

One by one each dog was called up to the front of the class to get his award.

I figured we were doomed when every other dog had been called.

And then, the moment.

“Passing the class and taking home the title of ‘Biggest Flirt’-Butter!” Teacher announced.

My heart leaped out of my chest.

That’s my girl!

That’s my graduate!

That’s my dream dog come true!

What better way to celebrate passing obedience school?

What better way to celebrate passing obedience school?

By the way, Butter has her own Instagram feed. You can follow her unbearable cuteness here.

((Please catch my column each week in The Atlanta Journal Constitution, The Dayton Daily News and other Cox Newspapers across the country.)))

And if you enjoy this column about loving a dog, you might enjoy my book,

“Hope Possible: A Network News Anchor’s Thoughts On Losing Her Job, Finding Love, A New Career, And My Dog, Always My Dog.”

final front cover



About That Time My Puppy Threatened To Flunk Obedience School

by DarynKagan time to read: 3 min
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