The trials of Fergus

April 3rd, 2008

Fergus turned one year old last month and if he was a cutting horse, I might appreciate his new found intensity. Suddenly, he wants to chase anything that runs, spins, flutters or glides, including, but not limited to, squirrels, butterflies, lizards, bicycles, and skate boarders. His breeder and his trainer tell me it’s “prey drive” compounded by adolescence and that it will pass.

Our teddy bear has turned into a terrier on steroids. A high school graduate on the cusp of earning his CGC (Canine Good Citizen award), he is capable of and willing to execute any command, except when distracted by squirrels, butterflies, lizards, bicycles, skate boarders and small children.

Last week he afforded me an out-of-body experience, when he broke away to bound up a hill toward a playground full of elementary school children who were playing tag, until one of them spotted Fergus and shreiked “Rottweiler!” Remember the beach scene from the movie “Jaws” – the one where everyone is running and screaming “shark”?

By the time I reached the playground, the kids had stopped running and so had Fergus. The boy nearest him, who was half his size, picked up his leash and handed it to me. Some of the other kids came up to pet him.

Since then, Fergus has been “in training” with my husband, who weighs 100 pounds more than I do, which is also 100 pounds more than Fergus. The first time he leapt for a squirrel with Alan on the other end of the leash, he looked like a mini-pin tied to an oak tree.

Although I am not ready to take him to the park, Alan reported that on Sunday Fergus passed the adolescent doggie equivalent of the “12 Trials of Hercules,” which involved skater boarders, bicycles, loose dogs, and joggers.

At home, Fergus is at the mercy of Sadie, a heeler-Malanois mix, who steals his bones, and two cats, who rule the roost.