Aces Wild

Aces Wild by Erica S. Perl Read Free Book Online

Book: Aces Wild by Erica S. Perl Read Free Book Online
Authors: Erica S. Perl
best-trained dog I knew. She could walk politely on a leash, sit at any opportunity, lie down if you even thought about asking her to, and roll over for a tummy scratch. But these were old tricks for her. Could Bridget learn new tricks? I wasn’t so sure.
    We walked into class just before it was scheduled to start. Ace pulled out his
New York Times
crossword puzzle, and I felt a huge wave of relief. This wasn’t a new trick for him. But if he succeeded at the more challenging task of not participating at all—not commenting loudly on the proceedings or getting into the middle of them—he could have all the treats in my treat sack. Which, tonight, contained cut-up pieces of Hebrew National salami—one of Ace’s favorites. One of Ace-the-grandpa’s favorites too.
    Mrs. Wright started us off in a circle, standing with our dogs. One at a time, she called people into the center, instructing them to let out the leash and allow their dogs to wander before calling their names. A lady with a schnauzer went first. Her dog took a few steps in the direction of the circle, and Mrs. Wright nodded.
    “Mika!” said the lady. The dog turned immediately and looked back at her.
    “Good, great, mark it!” ordered Mrs. Wright. “Who’d like to go next?”
    The man with the Great Dane got up to try. His puppy seemed thrilled at the opportunity to stretch her long legs and galloped away from him the moment he let out her leash.
    “Lady? Lady!” he tried. The dog’s ears perked up, but she didn’t turn. You could almost see her thinking through it like a math problem.
Name equals treat, maybe, but treat equals sitting down and not romping. Hmmmm …
She took another couple of giant steps in the direction of Ace, who was pulling determinedly on his leash to meet her halfway.
    “Ace, stop it,” I said.
    “WHAT?” came from behind me.
    “Not you,” I said, feeling my face get hot as I tried to push Ace’s wiggling bottom down into a sitting position.
    “Quiet, everyone!” called Mrs. Wright. “Let’s try again. This time, show the treat first, then pocket it. Let your dog know there’s something in it for her but she’s gotta pay attention to you.”
    The man did as he was told, and it seemed to work. The dog’s head moved, following his hand as he repocketed the treat. But when he tried again, the same thing happened as before.
    “I know their names mean something to you,” said Mrs. Wright, “but you have to remember that to your dogs they’re just words until you teach them otherwise. Let me show yousomething.” She turned to me. “Sweetie, do you mind if I borrow Ace for a minute?”
    “Oh, um, no, go ahead.” I held out the leash to her. Instead of taking it, she walked past me.
    “Would you mind helping us with a little demonstration?” she asked.
    Ace-the-grandpa looked up, startled. Perhaps he had even been dozing. I saw him doing the math, just like the Great Dane had.
Request from teacher equals participation and attention, but earlier request from grandchild equals no participation and …
    “WHY NOT?” said Ace.
    The two of them conferred briefly. Then, to my surprise, Ace followed Mrs. Wright into the center of the circle.
What could she possibly want with Ace?
I wondered. The only one who seemed more unhappy about this arrangement than me was Rosie, Mrs. Wright’s Pomeranian. Rosie was either the world’s laziest dog or even better trained than Bridget. She usually spent the entire class lying next to Mrs. Wright’s purse and watching, but when Ace-the-grandpa entered the ring, Rosie sprang to her feet and began to fidget.
    “Rosie, down,” said Mrs. Wright coolly.
    Instantly, Rosie crumpled to the floor and resumed her usual posture. But her eyes never left Mrs. Wright.
    “Now, for this demonstration,” said Mrs. Wright, “I’m going to need a volunteer. Let’s see.… How about you, Zelly?”
    This was a classic teacher trick, often used by Mr. Tortoni: call on the one person not

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