It’s a fact of life that everyone is busy. Everyone has commitments, be it work, family, volunteering, livestock, or, in most cases, all of the above. So theoretically, everyone with a barking, digging, chewing, spinning-on-the-leash pet sometimes known as “the family dog” has a good excuse why they can’t train their dog. However, the intrepid students of Reigning Cats & Dogs’ fall 2011 obedience class persevered, and three dog/owner teams graduated with honors (nobody with less than a “B”) on Saturday, October 29th. Craig Conlee and “Lupe” (Parson Russell Terrier), Corky Kirby and “Rusty” (Miniature Pinscher) and Sue Lubke and “Eskie” (Labrador Retriever) did not give in to the demands of multiple jobs or businesses, major health issues, or just “doggone it, I really don’t feel like getting up this early on Saturday morning.” Along with Zach Rabon and “Josie” (Labrador/Standard Poodle mix) and Mona Lois Schmidt and “Sasha” (Doberman Pinscher), both of whom graduated but were unable to attend last Saturday, they suited up, showed up, and taught their dogs to walk on a leash without choking themselves or dragging the owners down the street, to sit, to lie down, to stay, and the ever-elusive “come when called.” We also addressed the afore-mentioned barking, digging, chewing, jumping up, etc.Their instructor (Lenore Newsom) and her able-bodied assistant (Jocelyn Hemphill) both of whom also had a good excuse for not being there, in the form of many late Friday nights supporting the Punchers (Go Punchers!!!), were proud of all the graduates, particularly since they all had good excuses not to have done so well (my dog’s a difficult breed to train, my dog’s a rescue and he has issues, I haven’t had time to practice, he always does it well at home). The dogs apparently didn’t know they could use these excuses, because despite two of them being very thin-coated tiny dogs, they willingly parked their rear ends on the cold cement of the park pavillion in 50-degree weather for a one-minute sit-stay and a one-minute down-stay. Of course, one of whom, who will remain nameless (Lupe), did her routine in her stylish black sweater with the leopard faux fur collar. (Instructor’s note - we unfortunately only grade performance, not looks).Reigning Cats & Dogs offers obedience classes on Saturday mornings year-round. If you’re looking at your pet and thinking, “I’d take him to class, but I’m just too busy (or fill in the blank), let these graduates inspire you. It’s less than one percent of your dog’s life, and every dog you ever own after this one will benefit from the instructions you will learn in this class. If this group can do it, so can you! Enroll by calling Reigning Cats & Dogs, 325-347-1700. Our next class starts Saturday, January 14th, so make 2012 the year you resolve to have more fun with your dog. Behavioral consultations are also available free of charge at Reigning Cats & Dogs, so stop in and visit any time we’re open. Remember, you CAN do it! These people did!