The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

Michele Bender

April 15, 2012

MICHELE BENDER | Licorice speaks about owner’s obedience training

EBENSBURG — I watched excitedly as Joe’s truck backed down the driveway.

“They’re gone!”

As soon as the truck turned the corner, I scrambled right over to Michele’s computer and pressed the “on” button with my nose.      

By now, you’ve probably noticed – I’m a dog. My name is Licorice and my pet human, Joe, is Michele Bender’s friend.

Her column usually appears here twice a month.

Last July I subbed for her while the doctor removed some “cat-things” from her eyes. I had a great time helping out.

I revealed quite a few canine secrets. I blabbed that many of us can read and write. I also explained DogSpeak, our language that allows us to chat with one another.

Lately, I’ve been bursting to write another column that will enlighten human readers and my pooch pals, too.

I sent Joe to obedience school!

At first, I had some misgivings. I’d heard my nieces and nephew – Bridget, Maria and Michael – discussing school.

Words like “tests,” “teachers” and “homework” concerned me.

But it was wonderful. I had a ball, and Joe learned a lot!

Stacy, our “dog whisperer,” insisted that only humans attend the first session. That made perfect sense to me; the poor creatures had so much to learn.

I met my classmates, a diverse and fascinating group, at the second session.

It’s true … girls form cliques.

I had four close galpals. They would all have made a homecoming court.

Katie, a husky mix, was gorgeous with impeccable manners.

Mila, a glamorous golden retriever, was charming and elegant.

Meadow, an Airedale, set the “benchbark” for grace and behavior.

Taffy would have won “Miss Congeniality.” She obeyed her human, Pat, but had a streak of rascal in her, like me!  

Brother and sister springer spaniels Jack and Lily always livened things up. Hannah, a German shepherd, suffered from shyness issues. Our “George Clooney,” a seriously handsome, shiny, black Lab named Max had all of us girls panting!

Harry, a pinup for the perfect bulldog was, alas, short in stature. He was our class valedictorian. He did everything perfectly. And talk about schoolroom romances! Harry stared, mesmerized, when Katie and her human did their figure eights.

Jealous classmates called Harry a brown-noser, but heck ... most of our noses were black or brown. So what?

Dixie, a Schnauzer, was the bossiest, most vocal member of our group, but her human explained that she was the only, tiny, female in a household full of large-breed males and had to act as “Judge Judy” to stand her ground.

Yes, we grads of 2012 were a colorful bunch.

But our sessions weren’t all just strut and fetch. Serious issues came up in discussions before class and during breaks.

Leashes, vaccinations, ID microchips and doggie DNA were hot topics around the water bowl.

Please read my column next time to get the “whole scoop!”

Michele Mikesic Bender is a Johns­town resident and a member of The Tribune-Democrat’s Readership Advisory Committee.

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