The Pet TrainerbyFrancisMacomber©
One of the lessons about life I've learned is that there are always trade-offs. Take Heather, my wife, for example. The first time I met her I felt like I'd been struck by a lightning bolt. She was so gorgeous that I literally couldn't take my eyes off of her: pretty face, slim, curvy figure, long brunette hair. She was that perfect combination of girl-next-door and men's magazine model, and she just took my breath away. Today, ten years later, I still feel the same way.
But despite being so enticing, Heather is very conservative in bed. It's not that she's frigid, but she's definitely not adventurous. Sex means the missionary position in our bedroom with the lights out on our regular designated nights. She seems to love the act and is always responsive, but someone (her mother?) must have told her that good girls don't act slutty, even with their husbands. So other positions are out, and a blow job is just a dream I used to have. "I could never put that in my mouth!" she exclaimed the first time I proposed it, and she's held strictly to that ever since.
But despite that disappointment, she loves me as much as I love her, so I'm willing to accept that trade-off. A whole lot of love in life can offset a little bit of bland in the bedroom.
Another aspect of Heather's personality is her big heart. Not only is she sweet, loving and caring towards me, she is also compassionate and considerate of others. She's always volunteering for charitable activities, visiting friends who are sick or finding ways to give others a hand. The result is that everyone who knows her is always telling me what a big heart she has, which makes me even prouder of her.
Yet that quality comes with its own trade-off. The downside of having a big heart is that sometimes Heather doesn't know when to stop. I got a good example of this yesterday when I got home from the warehouse I manage and walked in the door, only to hear a harsh yapping and the sound of small claws running across the tile floor. Before I could investigate, Heather came in clutching a squirming ball of furry energy in her arms. "Isn't she cute?" she said sweetly. "This is Lady. I rescued her from the pound."
Now I don't dislike dogs; in fact, I had one when I was a kid. But owning a pet is a big commitment, one that I wasn't eager to make at that point in my life, particularly because Heather and I had been talking about starting a family.
Before I could raise any of those points, the little furry fiend had slipped out of Heather's arms and run across the floor to try to nip at my heel. As I raised my foot to kick it, Heather screamed out, "Don't hurt her!" and grabbed the dog up safely out of my range.
I looked at her dolefully. "Did you have to?" I asked.
Heather looked at me with her best puppy-dog eyes and said, "I had to rescue her – they were going to put her to sleep if I hadn't."
I was tempted to applaud the merits of such an action, but seeing the determination in Heather's eyes, I thought better of it. Against my better judgment, I caved in. "Alright," I said, rolling my eyes, "I guess we can keep her."
With that, Heather deposited the dog on the floor and threw her arms around my neck, kissing me gratefully. "Oh, thank you, Honey. You won't regret it, I know."
At that point, the little part-terrier ran across the room and bit my ankle.
That evening we learned three important facts about Lady. The first was that while she loved Heather, she hated me. Any time I walked into the room, she would growl and bark. The second thing we learned was that any loud noise outside caused her to bark hysterically while running around the room in circles. The third time a car driving down our street set Lady off, Heather looked up at me apologetically. "She just isn't used to living here yet," she said. I rolled my eyes again.
The last thing we learned that night was that Lady wasn't housebroken. By the time I'd done the best I could to clean up the carpet, the atmosphere was pretty chilly in the house.
The next morning I figured that my best bet was to try to sneak out without awakening the dog. To that end, I got up early, skipping making my usual breakfast to avoid any noise. I thought I'd gotten away with it, only to have Lady come barking and biting after me. As I ran for the door, I almost broke my neck skidding on the yellow pool she'd deposited in the hallway. I cursed the dog all the way to the warehouse.
By the time I got home from work that afternoon, I'd almost forgotten the little canine adoptee that had taken up residence in our home, but I was rudely reminded when I walked in the front door. The unmistakable odor of doggy-doo hit my nose, and I looked down to see the pile I'd unwittingly stepped in. Cursing and swearing I pulled off my shoe and went back outside to try to clean the mess off my heel. When I was done I came back inside and repeated the disinfecting procedure on the front hall floor. You can imagine my state of mind by the time I found Heather in the kitchen.
"That dog has got to go!" I shouted at her.
Heather looked at me with a stricken face. "She's still a puppy, she didn't mean anything," she pled, giving me an expression that would melt the heart of a hangman. "Please let her stay."
"Well, maybe," I growled, "but she's got to be trained. We're sending her to obedience school."
"Oh, thank you, honey!" Heather squealed and ran to give me a big kiss. When I felt my wife's breasts press against my chest, my mood changed quickly, and I grabbed for her toned ass.
"Unh, unh, unh," Heather scolded mildly, skipping out of my reach. "Let's save that for Saturday."
My good mood dissipated instantly. "Well, we've got to do something about that dog," I growled.
Then I remembered: "Didn't Sam and Evelyn send their dog to some kind of pet trainer?"
"You're right," Heather replied. "Evelyn said he was really good."
Just then I noticed the sound of a lawnmower, and I looked out the window to see Sam working away on his yard next door. I went outside and flagged him down.
"Hey, Sam, didn't you send your dog to obedience school recently? Was it any help?"
Sam got a big smile on his face. "Oh yeah, Marco Caldoro was the guy. Calls himself The Pet Trainer. Hang on: I think I've still got his card in my wallet." He fished around in his billfold and pulled out a business card. "Here it is. He was great. He's not cheap, but the results were definitely worth it. You won't be disappointed."
I thanked Sam and pulled out my phone as I walked back to my yard. No sense waiting around – who knows what kind of mess that dog was making in our house! A deep male voice answered on the third ring, and I got a mental image of Luciano Pavarotti.
"Hi, my name is Russell Masters. You don't know me, but my neighbor, Sam Halliburton, gave me your name. I think you did some training for him about a year ago. Anyway, my wife Heather brought home a dog, and the little bitch is completely out of control. I need help, and Sam said you were the best."
"Hold on a second," the voice said, and I heard the sounds of papers being shuffled. "Ah, here it is: Sam and Ethel Halliburton. I really enjoyed working with them," he said.
"Great!" I said. "Well, I need the same thing they got. Do you think you can help us?"
"I'm certain of it," Caldoro said confidently. "Let me tell you how I work. I usually require five sessions, each two hours in length, and they need to take place on consecutive days. So if you started on Monday, the training would be completed on Friday."
"Hmmm," I thought, "how am I gonna do that and still go to work?" Then I remembered that Heather was the one who wanted the damned dog in the first place, so she could be the one to schlep it over to the trainer every day.
"Okay, that'll work. So how much does this cost?" I asked.
"I charge $1,000 for the full course, payable in advance" he replied promptly.
"Whoa!" I exclaimed. "That's pretty stiff."
"Yes it is," he replied, "but I'm the best, and I guarantee results. If you're not completely satisfied, then I'll return my fee."
Just then I heard maniacal barking coming from inside my house. "With a money-back guarantee, I can't lose, and it would be worth it to get that damned dog to quiet down and quit peeing on everything," I thought.
"Okay, when can you start?"
"As it happens, I have an opening next week, starting at 1:00 p.m. on Monday."
"Perfect," I said. "My wife Heather will be there promptly at 1:00 on Monday, and she'll have a check with her."
When we'd concluded the arrangements, I went inside to tell Heather. She wasn't too happy about the time commitment, but I cut off her objections. "Listen, you brought this beast home with you. The least you can do is get her trained properly."
Before she could reply, Lady walked over and raised her leg to water the kitchen table leg. Heather heaved a sigh. "Alright, I'll do it."
When I saw Lady at the dog pound, there was something about the way she looked and acted that reminded me of myself. I knew right then that I had to take her home; I couldn't let the shelter put her to sleep. I knew that Russell wasn't going to be happy, but I was pretty sure I could win him over. He really is a great husband, and I knew he'd do just about anything for me if I really wanted it.
As I expected, Russell was pretty irate when Lady and I came home, but, like the sweetheart he is, he gave in once he realized how much she meant to me. But even I began to have second thoughts after it became clear how out of control Lady was. So the idea of obedience school made a lot of sense. Once we got Lady professionally trained she'd become the wonderful pet I knew she could be.
When I drove up to the address shown on the business card, I realized that Mr. Caldoro worked out of his home. I was a little surprised – I think I'd been expecting something like a veterinarian's office. Anyway, when I rang the doorbell, the door swung open to reveal a slim man only a few inches taller than myself. His face was deeply tanned (I guess he must be out of doors a lot, I thought) and there was a little gray at the temples of his dark, wavy hair.
But the most remarkable feature about him was revealed when he began to speak. In a deep, mellifluous voice, he said, "You must be Heather Masters, and this must be Lady." As he spoke, he bent over and picked up Lady, cradling her in his arms like a baby. As surprised as I was by his voice, I was even more impressed that Lady didn't resist him in any way. She would have been squirming and barking if Russell had tried to pick her up that way.
"Come in," he said, and beckoned me to follow him. We walked through his home and out onto a covered porch that opened onto a fenced-in yard. He put Lady down and she immediately began to explore the surroundings.
"Is this where you do your training, Mr. Caldoro?" I asked timidly. "We need her to be house-broken as well."
"Please call me Marco," he said pleasantly, "and, if I may, I'd like to call you Heather."
"Of course," I said.
"Well, Heather, while I'll do much of the training out here, never fear: Lady will be house-broken before the week is over," he said smilingly.
He motioned me to a small sofa sitting in the shade on the porch. "Let me tell you a bit about myself and my methods. I am a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine and I did postgraduate work in the area of human-canine relationships. During my studies I realized that I had a special talent for communicating and interacting with dogs, and I left veterinary science to explore and develop that talent. Since then, I've learned that many of our long-held beliefs about dogs are, in fact, wrong."
Although I felt a little like I was sitting in a lecture, I found myself listening intently. Perhaps it was the resonance of his voice or the way he kept his eyes trained on me, but whatever the case I found myself fascinated and intent on hearing what he had to say.
"Today I will spend most of my time alone with Lady and you'll be free to run errands or do whatever you wish, anything except remain here. Today it's very important that you not distract Lady by your presence. For the rest of the week, however, I will need you here the entire time."
My curiosity must have shown on my face because he smiled and began to explain. "Over the next four days I will spend as much time with you as I will with Lady. One of the things I have learned is that masters must be trained as well as their pets. You'll have the opportunity not only to observe my techniques but also to experience them and practice them yourself. But don't be concerned: there's nothing difficult to learn or remember – everything will seem totally natural and unforced. In fact, most of my clients tell me they thoroughly enjoyed the experience."
He stood up, and I automatically followed. "I think that's enough for now. Please leave Lady with me; you may return for her at 3:00 p.m." He held his hand out, and when I shook it I noticed that his grasp was warm and firm. I also noticed that Lady didn't bark when I left.
I decided to use the time to do a little shopping, and as I strolled through the mall I tried to decide what to make of Marco Caldoro. He wasn't at all what I'd expected, yet he seemed so calm and self-assured that I felt no misgivings. And that voice of his! I could easily understand how he could command his "students" and be obeyed, yet there was nothing threatening about him. All I could say was that he seemed ideally suited to his calling.
I felt like Marco really wanted me to return promptly at 3:00, so I made every effort to arrive precisely on time, even waiting a minute on his front porch before ringing the doorbell. He greeted me with a warm smile. "Very good, Heather, I'm so glad you're right on time." As we walked through his house, I felt gratified that I had pleased him.
When we got out on the porch, I spotted Lady playing in the backyard. When Marco called her name quietly, she came running, and when he bent down, to my astonishment she jumped up into his arms. "Hold her like you would an infant," he said, and then handed her to me. She allowed me to take her, and Marco reached over to pat her side gently. "That's a good girl," he crooned. Then he looked up at me. "We're off to a very good start, Heather. Please be sure to be here at 1:00 sharp tomorrow, and be prepared to spend the entire session here."
When I promised, he led us back through the house and waved as I put Heather in the car and headed home.
I'd been skeptical when I came home that night, but I had to admit that Lady seemed like a different dog. She was still energetic but she no longer barked at every sound, and she didn't growled at either of us like she normally would. And to our amazement, at one point she ran to the back door and began scratching to go out. When Heather put the leash on and went out with her, the little dog hurried over to several trees and bushes and proceeded to do her business.
When Heather led her back inside, I had a big grin on his face. "That guy is worth every penny," I said admiringly.
"And that's just after the first day," Heather said smugly. "Just wait till Friday!"
When I got to Marco's house on Tuesday, I tried to tell him how impressed I'd been with what he'd done with Lady, but he waved me off. "We have a long way to go," he said, "so let's get started."
When we got out to the porch, Marco turned to face me. "Yesterday was devoted to Lady. Today I'll spend time with both of you. As a first step, I'm going to help you to think and feel the way Lady does."
"When people try to communicate with their dog from a standing position, they're quite literally talking over their pet's head. That makes it much more difficult for the dog to understand and respond, at least in the early stages of training. He gestured toward one side of the porch, and I noticed a large well-stuffed mat lying on the floor. "It's much more effective for us to come down to the dog's level."
With that, he led me over and knelt down on the pad, beckoning me to do the same. Once we were both sitting comfortably, he called Lady's name in a quiet voice and she came trotting over and sat in front of him. "Another mistake people make is to shout at their dogs. The truth is that canine hearing is much more acute than ours is, and shouting can be painful. A low voice, even a whisper, can be far more effective."
As he spoke, I suddenly realized how quiet he had become. I leaned over to hear him better, and soon he was almost whispering in my ear. At first it felt awkward, but soon I found it felt very peaceful to hear his voice mingling with the calls of birds and the buzz of insects out in the yard.
"The next thing you must learn is the right way to touch your dog. Dogs are highly tactile animals, but most people don't know the right way and the right places to touch them." With that he began to stroke Lady's back, and she lay down, obviously enjoying what he was doing.
"In a moment," he whispered in my ear, "I'll have you begin to rub her. But it's very important that you use the right pressure. Do it like this," he said, and began to stroke my back gently but firmly. At first I was startled, but as he continued I relaxed and even began to enjoy his smooth gentle touch.
"Now you try it with Lady," he said quietly, and I reached down to her, trying to use the same rhythmic, gentle strokes that I felt on my own back. Lady looked up momentarily, but then let her head fall back down, and I thrilled to realize that I must be doing it right.
Marco's hand never ceased to stroke my own back, and I let the motion of his hand guide my own with Lady.
After a few minutes, he leaned over to me once again. "Rubbing Lady's back is a great way to calm and relax her. But when you're ready to instruct her, you'll want to shift to her head."
With that I felt his hand run up my neck and begin to rub my head with his fingers. A shudder ran through my body, and then I felt a wave of peace and relaxation flow over me. My eyes slid shut, yet I felt totally attuned to the world around me, especially to Marco's voice whispering in my ear.
"Now gently run your hand up Lady's back and begin to rub her head just the way I'm rubbing yours," he instructed, and, almost of their own volition, my fingers began to massage Lady's small furry head. Marco continued to work on me, and I felt as if there was a direct connection between Lady and myself. It was a wonderful, almost ecstatic feeling.
By now I had lost all sense of time, but in a while I heard him whisper again. "I can tell that you are a particularly receptive subject, Heather. Let's see what happens if I change the location and nature of my touch just slightly."
With that I felt his thumb and little finger reach behind my ears and began to rub just behind that little ridge in a circular motion. It felt different but equally good, and I relaxed once again. Soon, however, the strangest thing began to happen. I felt warmth began to build within me, not like a fever but the heat of anticipation: something good was about to happen. The warmth began to center between my hips, moving down until I felt a little twitch between my thighs in my special place. I wanted to rub it, but I felt far too relaxed to move. Then a similar heat began to build in my breasts, and I could feel my nipples swelling and erecting. I tried to think what could be happening to me, yet I felt so comfortable that I just wanted to sit there and enjoy the feeling.
Suddenly, Marco shifted the motion back to my scalp, and the warmth began to spread throughout my whole body while at the same time subsiding into a pleasant feeling of general well-being. When he returned to rubbing my back, he whispered, "That was very good, Heather. You're every bit as responsive as I'd hoped. Now, why don't you take a little nap, and I'll work on Lady for a while."