AT RANDOM: Puppy parent

My pup had his first birthday the other day. He was born on Sept. 11, a date not many people are likely to forget.

My pup had his first birthday the other day. The main reason I know that is he was born on Sept. 11, a date not many people are likely to forget.

We’ve had Bo since he was seven weeks old, and it’s weird to think he has been part of our family for that long. My early memories of him are of sleepless nights and potty training (I finally got wise and installed a dog door).

Oh, and he was pretty cute too.

There’s still a lot of puppy left in Bo, and it’ll probably take another year before we completely run the crazy out of him. And he still pees on his front feet because he has yet to learn to lift his leg, but he is well on his way to becoming an actual dog.

We have worked with a couple of trainers over the past year to improve his obedience, both with positive results, but one of them stands out.

Not only because of his methods and effectiveness, but because of who he is and how much I originally underestimated him.

When David Weir strutted through my gate, I was skeptical to say the least.

Here is this 15-year-old kid, maybe 5-foot-6 and 130 pounds, sporting a straight-brimmed Oakley ball cap, bright T-shirt and track pants. He looked more suited for the skateboard park than the dog park.

My initial hesitation lasted all of 10 seconds.

I could tell David had his game face on, and once he was through that gate, my dogs knew it too (we also have an eight-year-old black lab cross).

It was intriguing to watch the interaction between Bo and David, who immediately went about “claiming” his space in our yard. And with the rapport soon established, and David firmly entrenched as The Pack Leader (that’s the name of his business), we spent the following weeks addressing some of Bo’s (and our) issues.

Gone are the days when Bo would incessantly bark and circle me while I pushed the lawn mower or wheel barrel. He isn’t half-bad on a leash now, and while he still barks at visitors, he isn’t a complete lunatic.

One of our main reasons for seeking out David was that Bo liked to bark at, and chase, kids. When our five-year-old nephew visits, it is inevitable that he will want to run and jump and play in the yard, all of which trigger Bo’s herding instincts.

That too has been dealt with. One of my lasting impressions of our training sessions with David is him picking up my nephew and spinning and running around the yard in the pouring rain, trying to elicit a reaction from Bo. He didn’t get one.

The more I get to know David, the more I am impressed by how he handles himself. I know 40-somethings who aren’t as with it as he is. When I was 15, there is no way I would be comfortable telling adults what to do.

He is an absolute soccer fanatic. He is the keeper for the Vernon United Under 17 boys team that went to provincials this summer in Prince George. He also coaches youth soccer and is a referee/linesman for some of the other local leagues.

David isn’t of age yet, so his mother drives him to our sessions. She also volunteers to assist in the training.

Before Bo came along, we were actually considering adopting a mature rescue dog so we wouldn’t have to go through the rigmaroles of training and housebreaking a puppy. That all changed when our friend’s Swiss Mountain Dog hopped his fence and knocked up the neighbour’s border collie.

The neighbour showed up one day and, half jokingly, asked when our friend would like to pick up his litter of 11 puppies. Our friend took two of the pups, and eventually got all three fixed.

Knowing the sire and herding instincts of the mother (she is a working cattle dog), we decided the offspring would be a good mix to have on our hobby farm. I doubt Bo will ever be used as a herder, but he is bright, alert and, while slightly undersized (his dad is 85 pounds and Bo is 45 pounds soaking wet), he is turning out to be a great addition to the family.

—Graeme Corbett is a sports reporter/business editor for The Morning Star